Rich is a BCEHS community paramedic with Station 525 in McBride, a village in north central B.C.’s Robson Valley.
She knows her community well; she’s called McBride home for 27 years. For the past eleven and a half years she has served residents in the area as a paramedic, and for the last two years as a community paramedic.
As a community paramedic, her typical day involves caring for patients and working on community projects to promote health awareness and public safety. She has trained more than 250 people in the community in such things as saving lives with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to properly use an EpiPen (epinephrine autoinjector) for emergency treatment of serious allergic reactions. Rich also gives presentations at community events on 9-1-1 etiquette and public safety, and at health fairs to enhance people’s knowledge about their well-being.
As an integral part of the Robson Valley health care team, Rich treats seniors with chronic health conditions, such as lung disease or diabetes. Visiting them in their homes, she checks vital signs, makes sure they are taking their medications, and teaches them how to manage their symptoms and avoid falls. She says the best part about her job is when a patient learns something new from her that makes their life better in some way.
“I went to see a patient in his home, and he told me his diabetes medication had run out four or five days earlier,” Rich says. “He had scheduled an appointment with his doctor to get another prescription, but for the time being he was out of his much-needed medication. I told him he could go to his pharmacy and get an emergency supply until his scheduled appointment. He didn’t know he could do that.”
BCEHS community paramedics serve residents in more than 80 rural and remote communities across the province. Within the Northern Health area, there are 25 community paramedics.
Rich says community paramedicine appeals to a certain kind of paramedic.
“It’s different from emergency medicine, where you don’t often learn what happens to patients,” she said. “To be a good community paramedic, you must want to develop a connection to people, and to be part of a person’s continuum of care.”