Young paramedics in B.C. deserve better treatment

Editor:

Recently I experienced a medical emergency and found myself in need of a paramedic. Although it was a frightening experience, I came away with a sense of profound gratitude for the two wonderful paramedics who were so extraordinary to both me and my worried family.

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The level of professionalism, skill and just kindness was amazing, and I hope they know how much we appreciated their expertise and speed.

Now fast forward to this morning when I read an article online about how paramedics both in rural areas and those who do not yet have full-time status (apparently this can take years following completion of a grueling training program which they pay) are now expected to be available on call for the grand sum of $2 per hour (https://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-301047-3-.htm?fbclid ).

Up until recently there was a four-hour guaranteed regular pay rate per shift but this was apparently due to be rolled back a few months ago. However, because of the pandemic, thoughtful BC Ambulance decided to delay the implementation of this until now. I guess they wanted to make sure they could count on having these dedicated professionals keep risking their lives day after day, dealing with infected people until the pandemic could be considered under control.

Now that we seem to be hopefully through the worst of it, they can move forward with implementing the $2 per hour rule for paramedics who don’t have full-time jobs yet and have to travel to rural places to get their hours in and build seniority.

Makes me wonder what would happen if the possible second wave does come – maybe we can up their pay to $3 or $4 per hour. After all they are risking their lives, right? Maybe we should do this with our police as well; we can pay them $2 per hour if there aren’t any calls?

How on earth does this make sense and how insulting it must feel to be a young, dedicated paramedic at this time in our country? Shame on you, BC Ambulance. Would you work for $2 per hour?

I wonder at what point are these dedicated professionals going to just walk away to leave the profession in favour of one that actually values them rather than leaving them wondering how they can pay their rent on $2 per hour.

I wonder if at some point in rural B.C. someone will call for a paramedic in an emergency and there just won’t be one to come to their aid as they have all left in favour of finding a job that at least pays minimum wage?

Colour me disgusted.

Lisa Everatt

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