September 20, 2012 · Updated 4:39 PM
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MLA Michelle Mungall is the latest voice calling for Interior Health to put the brakes on reducing emergency room hours in Kaslo. / Sam Van Schie photo

In light of the Kaslo Hospital ending its after-hours emergency room service, Interior Health is looking for opportunities to make it more appealing for ambulance paramedics to work in the community.

With Kaslo doctors refusing to work on-call for evening and weekend shifts after November 2, people who experience medical emergencies outside business hours will be reliant on Kaslo’s single ambulance to transport them to Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital.

Dr. Alan Stewart, medical director of Interior Health’s community integrated health services, explained this necessity makes recruiting ambulance paramedics to work in Kaslo a priority.

To do this, Stewart explained, Interior Health is in negotiations with BC Ambulance to establish a memorandum of agreement that allows on-call paramedics to work as advanced care attendants in the 20-bed residential care facility located next to Kaslo’s Victorian Community Health Centre.

“This is an innovative role for this small community,” Stewart said.

Ambulance paramedics are only paid their regular wage for hours they are out on calls. In small communities where calls are infrequent, a paramedic may spend more of their shift waiting for a call then they do actually working in the ambulance.

As a result, paramedics often choose to work in larger communities, where they are more likely to be busy throughout their shifts.

However, the partnership between Interior Health and BC Ambulance would give paramedics an opportunity to work between calls.

“It would be a position that they can leave if a call comes and they need to be in an ambulance,” Stewart said.

“I think it will create an attractive option for paramedics in Kaslo who currently find it difficult to earn enough working for BC Ambulance alone.”

 

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