British Columbia is improving access to health care in rural and remote communities by enhancing the role of qualified paramedics.
BC Emergency Health Services is working closely with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), and others to successfully launch British Columbia's first Community Paramedicine Initiative.
In BC, community paramedicine is intended primarily for rural and remote communities that are sometimes underserved and have aging populations living with chronic and complex diseases. The program objectives are to help stabilize paramedic staffing in these communities, and bridge health service delivery gaps identified in collaboration with local health care teams.
While other provinces have introduced community paramedicine in communities or health facilities, BC is the first to do so on a province-wide basis.
The Community Paramedicine Initiative was launched in April 2015 with three prototype community projects in Northern Health. This was followed with two in Interior Health and four in Island Health.
The provincial rollout began in late April 2016 with the announcement of 76 communities
(PDF) that will be served by regular part-time community paramedics. Most communities selected have ambulance stations with on-call staff. Offering regular part-time employment is an incentive for community paramedics to remain in the community and to continue to be available for on-call emergency response outside of their community paramedicine shifts.
The communities were identified through a selection process that considered health service needs, BCEHS response areas, and communities with the greatest need of a more stabilized paramedic staffing.
Community paramedics must hold at least a Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) license with IV endorsement, and complete a 14-week orientation program before working in their communities. The CPs for the provincial rollout were hired in five cohorts, with the final cohort expected to be working in their communities by December 2017. The final phase of implementation is the optimal deployment of CP positions not yet assigned. These positions and the communities are expected to be confirmed by the end of 2017.