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    Unhappy This'll Cause A Storm

    Inquiry proposes paramedic options

    An inquiry into B.C.'s options for ambulance service includes the possibility of merging paramedics with either fire departments or local health care facilities.
    B.C. Ambulance Service

    Buy Cowichan News Leader Pictorial Photos Online

    Text By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News

    Published: January 19, 2010 3:00 PM
    Updated: January 19, 2010 3:39 PM

    VICTORIA – Privatizing B.C.'s ambulance service or combining ambulance and fire departments in some communities are among the options being considered by the provincial government to solve an impasse in labour relations.

    After a contract extension with a three per cent raise was imposed on striking paramedics in November, Labour Minister Murray Coell appointed former deputy finance minister Chris Trumpy to head an inquiry.

    "There are some interesting options there that we're going to have an opportunity to discuss over the next couple of months," Coell said Tuesday.

    Premier Gordon Campbell said the government needs to look at all the options available for delivering paramedic service that work for employees and provide the best service for the public. Neither Coell nor Campbell would indicate which options they prefer.

    Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873, which represents B.C.'s 3,600 paramedics, boycotted the inquiry and dismissed the result as superficial and biased. CUPE B.C. president Barry O'Neill said Trumpy's report "appears to be exactly what the provincial government wanted – a quick glance at the serious problems facing our ambulance service mixed with the threat of dismantling it."

    In his report, Trumpy notes that some paramedics did participate despite the union's refusal. He acknowledges that the quality of ambulance service varies widely between urban areas with full-time paramedics and rural and remote regions, where there isn't enough work for full-time service, and on-call and part-time paramedics provide skeleton service at lower pay rates.

    The report examines local innovations such as in Kitimat, where an agreement allows municipal firefighters to train and work as paramedics as well. Another innovation is in the Kootenay community of Midway, where on-call paramedics round out their employment by providing home support at night for an assisted living facility.

    The report also looks at contracting out ambulance service as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have done, or extending existing contract services in B.C. that transfer stabilized patients between health care facilities.

    Trumpy found that B.C.'s urban full-time paramedics are paid near the top of the scale in Canada. The union went on strike last April to back demands for urban wage parity with police and firefighters, but essential services rules require most of them to stay on the job.
    ===

    Les Leyne column: Well-paid paramedics need new approach

    By Les Leyne, Times Colonist January 20, 2010

    It took the better part of a year, but the public now has a clear picture of where B.C.'s paramedics sit on a cross-Canada comparison of pay rates.

    They're very close to the top of the list.

    Which makes you wonder once again at the Canadian Union of Public Employees' valiant but doomed effort to go to the wall for a 30-per-cent pay hike.

    The CUPE local spent months comparing members' pay rates to nurses and police and firefighters while it was pressing for that huge pay hike to achieve parity.

    But a comparison to other paramedics across Canada is just as valid, if not more.

    And the industrial inquiry commission report done by retired deputy minister Chris Trumpy includes just that comparison. It was produced by the Public Sector Employers' Council and appears to do a pretty rigorous apples-to-apples comparison of all the different factors.

    It includes the maximum wage levels for paramedics in all provinces along with the estimated benefits cost per hour, making some educated guesses where the data isn't publicly available. Benefits include the usual range of extended health and dental, plus life and disability insurance, vacations and pensions.

    And British Columbian paramedics are the highest paid in Canada, at $40.60 an hour ($30.91 in wages, $9.69 in benefits). That's 55 cents ahead of Ontario and almost $3 an hour ahead of Alberta. When other factors are taken into account, Ontario paramedics edge slightly ahead.

    Trumpy also compared paramedics' pay to others in the health field, like nurses. They compare very favorably on that basis as well.

    If anyone had cared about CUPE's eight-month long strike in an attempt to win a 30-per-cent wage hike, those findings would have worked against the paramedics in a big way.

    But no one did care, which is a matter Trumpy also addressed.

    Almost every striking paramedic was declared an essential worker and stayed on the job. So the strike was completely invisible. It created no pressure on management. And there was no pressure on the union to compromise.

    The whole exercise was a waste of time.

    Both sides of the ambulance service go into contract negotiations every few years knowing they are largely a useless charade. That might go a long way toward explaining why labour relations in the sector are so fractured and why almost every contract going back to the mid-1980s has involved a big fight of some sort. It's a testament to the power of inertia that such an important public service would bargain under such an unproductive system over and over again.

    The commission report doesn't advocate a particular solution. But it outlines some different systems that would remove the concept of a pretend strike.

    The parties could go to one of two kinds of arbitration when disputes arise. Or they could break up the negotiating structure and disband the employer, leaving the paramedics to bargain with multiple employers.

    That would move away from the one-size-fits-all approach the service has used for 40 years.

    Trumpy suggests giving up on that model. Providing the same level of care throughout B.C. just isn't possible, he concludes. Rural and remote areas where the occasional need is served by part-timers will never have the same level of service as the big cities. Facing that fact would pave the way for the shakeup the system needs.

    Just So You Know: Anyone interested in marking the anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's death is invited to drop by Beacon Hill Park this Sunday at 2 p.m. for a toast to his memory.

    Churchill planted a tree in the Mayor's Grove at the foot of Quadra Street during a visit here in 1929. For the last 10 years, a hardy group of fans of the great man have gathered at the spot to mark his passing on Jan. 24, 1965.

    Readers are invited to a raffle of Churchill books and memorabilia and to meet famed Churchill impersonator, my pal Chris Gainor.


    lleyne@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
    ==
    COMMENTS: (just a few of them)

    Eric
    Your breakdown of a paramedics wage is very misleading. The fact that you fail to mention that if say you are a paramedic on one of the Gulf Islands your wage is likely $3.00/hour and you are on call most of the time. It's would be nice if the wage was actually $40/hr then I might still be a paramedic instead of an accountant. This study of the wage does not account for the overtime worked which dramatically raises the wage. I also like the part where you mention BC paramedics are the highest paid, but when other factors are taken into account, Ontario paramedics edge slightly ahead!!!! Let's have all the factors, please. Stupid, Stupid Stupid. Bad news story. Give your head a shake people. You wouldn't treat firefighters like you do paramedics!

    David
    Wow, you are so way off base with your figures and the newly created report you are referring to was admittedly completed in a rushed manner and based on "guesses" at best with no real factual information. Do you really think that $2.00 per hour is a fair wage? When a hospital or firefighte emergency worker is on shift they are paid their full regular wage - however when a Paramedic is on shift, they receive only $2.00 per hour until they are called out to an emergency. How can anyone work for that? And yet, the Times Colonist was recently calling for an increase to minimum wage. You are so out of touch with reality. The Union recently missed an opportunity to obtain fair wages for our over worked Paramedics. They should have shut down the system (if only for a few hours) to prove their real worth - in the end, this would have prompted government to take them seriously and they would have been granted a fair and equitable salary. But they didn't, they played "nice" and lost their best opportunity. By the way, you are only quoting wages and benefits for very few long time employees - the majority of the Paramedics are part time - on call employees - it takes several years to even become permanent in the BC Paramedic field.

    just me
    For the life of me I don't understand why an article on the BCAS strike ends with an invitation to toast the memory of Churchill. It seems like an attempt to rub the paramedics noses in their loss.

    Speaking as a firefighter who works side by side with BCAS crews- while the city people get a nice juicy salary, the small town paramedics work on call- carrying pagers. No call- no pay. I think this is somewhat unfair, and will end up hurting smaller communities. Who can afford to sit around waiting for a call for no pay? Sorry- they do get $2.00 per hour while carrying the pager. LOL! That should encourage new people to join up, eh??

    4paramedics
    This article does not address all the issues the BC paramedics have brought forward...their strike is about much more than raises-and this article doesnt even address the paramedics who are highly underpaid-

    this article is biased and it seems its goal is to turn the public against BCs hardworking-overworked-underpaid and understaffed paramedics.

    Lets cut them some slack people...

    here is the real deal:

    http://vimeo.com/7176039

    Spitting Angry
    I am very angry this morning, primarily because of the misleading information given to the public. Quite frankly, I expected more from you and you sir owe the paramedics of British Columbia an apology!

    "It took the better part of a year, but the public now has a clear picture of where B.C.'s paramedics sit on a cross-Canada comparison of pay rates. They're very close to the top of the list. Which makes you wonder once again at the Canadian Union of Public Employees' valiant but doomed effort to go to the wall for a 30-per-cent pay hike."

    This is NOT only all about wages, but it seems to be what the Liberals fall back on to justify their position every time one of them makes a media statement. And what better way for government to gain support from the public by quoting a $40.60/hr wage figure - the top wage paid to ALS paramedics.

    But let's discuss these wages. Yes, our top ADVANCED Life Support (ALS) paramedics do make a very decent wage...no argument there. But what percentage of our 3500 paramedics are top paid ALS? Very, very few. At least 60% of paramedics are part time only. Most work for $2/hr pager pay or $10 standby. I could show you a typical two-week pay stub of 167hrs, 84 of it at $2/hour. This is paramedic burnout just to try and make a living! What about those that must commute to their remote stations (such as Port Renfrew), not get paged out, then commute home...it COSTS THEM to go to work and working remote stations is the only option for new hires. (For the record, Ontario gave up standby pay 10 years ago.) These paramedics carry the BCAS on their backs.

    On the subject of recruitment and retention, Mr. Trumpy's report states that there will be problems in 5 to 10 years due to retirements and few recruitments. But this subject only deserved a paragraph or two. Who would/could pay tuition out of their own pockets to receive certification, only to work for $2/hour at some rural or remote station? And this does not figure in living expenses while doing their schooling. ALS certification is only a dream for most...they can't possibly save enough on their PCP part time income for the hefty tuition and a year off work.

    It's a very sad and broken system. Sad because many very good paramedics have had to give up their careers in order to make a living elsewhere.

    Mr. Campbell justified their own raises by saying to keep the best you must pay them. Does this only apply to politicians?

    TJM
    January 20, 2010 - 12:55 PMFlag this as Inappropriate So i am to understand that the only thing you see is Paramedics wanting a raise? I also see that Paramedics are undervalued? FIremen and Police are an essential service, but the ambulance isnt? Unless they try to strike then they are slapped with an essential serivce order and must work anyways, and you be~little that? What a sad state of affairs this province has managed to find itself in. I have many friends in Fire, Police and Ambulance and if there is one thing I do know for certain, ALL of them are essential. I assume you have never required an Ambulance, becuase if you did you would know that these professionals earn every darn dollar. Also, please explain to me how a Paramedic with 7 years experience makes $13.70 an hour, on call 6 days a week and only paid when the pager goes off = $40.60?

    Understand this, top tier medics that are full time and have many years of service make that kind of money and they are few. There is a reason the BCAS only has limited full timers, so they can over work and underpay the part timers with NO benefits.

    How long are you willing to wait for an ambulance? I hope it is atleast 10 minutes, becuase at the moment it is the best response time driving with full lights and sirens. The BEST time. They need more ambulances for goodness sakes.

    Oh and my personal favorite...... I watched them get a call for a cardiac arrest and they jumped into their truck.......now the best part.......one asked the other for the "MAP BOOK" they just bought at Bolen Books !! NO GPS???? that is right folks, a $3.99 city of victoria map book. Feel SAFE? What if you are on a new subdivision? Yikes !

    Pretty quick to judge you are......You are getting older.....one day mark my words you will need an ambulance, how long are you willing to wait when minutes seem like hours?

    Please, please stop glorifying the money. Yup they want a raise, but they also want a better service, more units, more staff which means better response times.

    Thank you to all of the hard working Paramedics across the province.

    Dont let others try to get you down, they just write for a news paper with half facts, you save lives for a living!

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    Paramedic service says report is not going to fix ambulance service in B.C.

    Paramedics are not pleased with a report released in the wake of a lengthy labour dispute that ended with a legislated deal in the fall.

    Andrew Leong/file

    Text By Krista Siefken - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial

    Published: January 21, 2010 7:00 AM
    Updated: January 21, 2010 7:52 AM

    0 Comments Paramedics are less than impressed with a recently released report reviewing the B.C. Ambulance Service.

    The non-binding report, completed by former deputy finance minister Chris Trumpy, was commissioned following last year’s paramedic strike.

    Providing fodder for the discussion around redesigning the B.C. Ambulance Service, Trumpy looked at five options for service delivery: the status quo, closer integration with health care, closer integration with first responders (firefighters), community driven service delivery, and private sector delivery.

    “It’s a very superficial glance at the ambulance service, it makes absolutely no recommendations whatsoever on how to fix our broken ambulance service, and one has to question whether this is just simply window dressing by the provincial government to make it look as if it’s trying to do something to address paramedics’ concerns,” fumed Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.’s B.J. Chute.

    “There’s nothing new (in the report). These are service delivery models contemplated for the past 30 years, and there are no meaningful recommendations — just options that give the government the tools to dismantle the provincial ambulance service.”

    Also dismissing the report is the union representing B.C.’s 3,600 paramedics. In fact, CUPE Local 873 boycotted the inquiry.

    Trumpy, meanwhile, acknowledged the quality of ambulance service varies widely between urban areas with full-time paramedics, and rural or remote regions where there isn’t enough work for full-time service. In these areas, on-call or part-time paramedics provide skeleton service at lower pay rates.

    He noted innovations like the service in Kitimat, where an agreement allows local firefighters to train and work as paramedics as well.

    “I think if the province concentrated on making more full-time jobs available then we wouldn’t be in this situation now,” Mike Lees, retiring chief of the Sahtlam Volunteer Fire Department, said in response to the suggestion of integrating paramedics and firefighters.

    The Trumpy report was delivered to the Ministry of Labour Jan. 15 and can viewed on the government website.

    — with files from Tom Fletcher

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    $2/hr "standby" (in-quarters or in-service local, NOT on a call/transporting) is absolutely correct. I used to talk to a Medic in BC in one of the more rural areas... basically she worked 2 jobs just to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. Not nearly enough call volume to make ends meet. And for an ALS provider? Wow. Just... wow. Where's the incentive to get your Medic up there, again???
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    $2/hr "standby" (in-quarters or in-service local, NOT on a call/transporting) is absolutely correct. I used to talk to a Medic in BC in one of the more rural areas... basically she worked 2 jobs just to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. Not nearly enough call volume to make ends meet. And for an ALS provider? Wow. Just... wow. Where's the incentive to get your Medic up there, again???
    I agree. I can't understand for the life of me why a medic only gets paid $10 to $15 an hour. One pickup and the ambulance gets $500. Yet in this country, we pay truck drivers $30 and $40 per hour. What a world!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I agree. I can't understand for the life of me why a medic only gets paid $10 to $15 an hour. One pickup and the ambulance gets $500. Yet in this country, we pay truck drivers $30 and $40 per hour. What a world!!!
    What do you smoke? It must be some good stuff. What company pays their divers that?

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    B.C is a sad state - Alberta is heading down the same path.
    -I have learned people will forget what you said,
    -People will forget what you did,
    -But people will never forget how you made them feel!

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    This'll make things interesting. The province went away from privatized service back in the 70's (dont know the exact reasons as I was just a yung'n then). Nothing like going full circle on something eh?

    B.C. looks at privatizing ambulances

    Option considered in wake of strike by paramedics

    Times Colonist February 11, 2010

    As the province launches a consultation with paramedics following a bitter strike, one of the options being considered is privatizing the ambulance service.

    "There's precedent in other provinces ... for private delivery of the ambulance service," said Health Services spokeswoman Michelle Stewart, adding, "I'm not suggesting that would be practical or where we would go."

    Stewart said the goal is a "thoughtful discussion" between the employer, CUPE and front-line paramedics.

    The consultation announcement was made as the B.C. Ambulance Service and CUPE 873, which represents paramedics, are negotiating a new contract.

    BJ Chute, spokesman for the paramedics' union, said privatizing the service would be a step backward.

    "We thought we were on the brink of concluding our collective bargaining, [but] there's not much point continuing to bargain unless we know what the structure of the ambulance service is going to look like."

    The consultation follows the release of a report by an industrial inquiry commissioner that outlined three options -- closer integration with the health system and other emergency-service providers and opportunities for private-sector service delivery.

    The ambulance service could become aligned with the provincial health authorities, said Stewart.

    B.C. Ambulance paramedics went on strike April 1, 2009, but continued to work under essential service legislation. The provincial government forced an end to the strike in November and handed paramedics a three per cent wage increase.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


    Just a few of the 48 comments: (apparently "anonymous" likes to write?)

    anonymous
    7:10 AM on February 12, 2010

    This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore anonymous.

    Firefighters as Paramedics is not a smart idea. It is failing all over the US. The FDNY and other Fire Departments are looking at getting rid of the Ambulance service.

    anonymous
    4:38 AM on February 12, 2010

    I think it is time to privatise. FDNY, LAFD, Dallas Fire Rescue.... the majority of EHS agencies in the US are FIRE DEPARTMENTS who employ Paramedics; not firefighters who pretend to be Paramedics. Los Angeles Fire Department has one of the BEST emergency medical systems in the USA and North America- so dont let these guys fool you to think Fire would not be a good option to replace BCAS. It would be, and it is. And a lot of these part-timers who are so miserable in their employment tenure at BCAS can go somewhere else and complain.

    anonymous
    1:42 AM on February 12, 2010

    Privatization does not mean higher costs, as long as costs are controlled by the contract. Where things fall down is where the government does not specify and enforce standards of service. Inspections and oversight by government are mandatory.

    anonymous
    1:15 AM on February 12, 2010

    Didn't somebody here suggest right to work laws?
    Nice to see at least one taxpayer that thinks right.

    anonymous
    1:12 AM on February 12, 2010

    The spokesman for the paramedics union claims privatization would be a step backwards. Anything that removes that delusional union is a step forward.

    anonymous
    1:12 AM on February 12, 2010

    LOL

    anonymous
    10:45 PM on February 11, 2010

    To the duffus who said the fire department gets there first; The main reason the fire department gets called is that there will be a delay in the ambulance getting there, because they are already on higher priority calls. Other reasons they are called is for a lift assist or for extrication at motor vehicle accidents.
    Something you might want to keep in mind about those $2 / hr stations is that because they are remote, the calls take a lot longer, backup is a lot farther away and the crew has to look after the patient for a lot longer. The paramedics in these remote areas are generally less experienced but fully trained. (And working at a loss, in a profession they love) {MalNote: actually in the south Island where I came from, BCAS was always called first, and after they followed a protocol checklist, then the FD would be called, if enough "X's" were left blank - I verified this with a friend who was BCAS at the time}

    anonymous
    8:08 PM on February 11, 2010

    you clowns want the firefighters to take over and run things ??? are you nuts? fire fighters avergage trainning = 40hrs of medical trainning. VS. Advanced Care paramedics over 4000hrs of medical trainning. Let the fire fighter stick to doing what they are good at. Fighting fires and vechicle extrication etc. Leave the medical work to the MEDICALLY trainned personelle. Would u ask the paramedics to go put out a structure fire with a freggin bucket of water? stick to what u know.

    anonymous
    7:48 PM on February 11, 2010

    I agree with the idea of fire departments doing ambulance work. That way the cities can pay there wages and paramedic will get a raise. It does not matter that home owners will have to pay triple property taxes and rural areas would be without ambulance coverage as these would not be in the city limits and would be out of there coverage area. GREAT IDEA..... use some common sense.

    anonymous
    7:36 PM on February 11, 2010

    i think the ambulance union is totally useless and has screwed their members and is at the peril of campbell and his goal to privatise everything no matter what. why not privatise hospitals while you are at it? Alas, bc is broke and there are no $$ for this, but there are for the olympics and for secondary sewage treatment, 2 things that scientists say we do not need.

    anonymous
    6:37 PM on February 11, 2010

    senior
    I am completely against privatizing the ambulance service. Just look at the sorry difference in nursing homes run by private owners as opposed to by goverment.
    Private ownership first priority is large profit margins, we could be held up for any amount, when our need is greatest..
    There are too many public services in private hands already.

    anonymous
    4:22 PM on February 11, 2010

    i lived in alberta when the conservatives privatized the ambulance service. this type of policy is so right wing and in effective, even the serfdom of alberta has reversed its privatization.
    nice scare tactic, now get back to bargaining in good faith. MANIACS!

    anonymous
    4:20 PM on February 11, 2010

    Oh No!! We've been there already. It was a disaster!

    anonymous
    3:30 PM on February 11, 2010

    Have we thought for a moment what would happen to our property tax when the provincial goverment downloads ambulance service onto the municipality?
    The cost of training, the positions, the equipment? Get ready to pay alot more.
    And, what if you live in a community that has two ambulances, and you happen to be the third person to call for help? In the current system, ambulances are frequently repositioned to cover areas whose resources are already tasked - by privatizing or regionalizing services, one had better hope that there is a solid mutual aid agreement, or you may be out of luck.
    So Kevin Falcon tells us HEU shaved money off their budget. Last time you were in the hospital, did you happen to note how clean it was? One of my family members went to the hospital emergency department
    with vertigo and came home with MRSA; a baterial infection that resulted in an emergency surgery and a 4 night stay in hospital.
    This is an attempt at bottom line health care, with no regard for the public -

    There were more than this, and found at:

    http://www.timescolonist.com/busines...719/story.html

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    I’ve read the “Report of the industrial inquiry Commission in the BCAS” If they privatise or the regionalise the BCAS, I can see huge problems.

    My fire Dept does not do, and bylaws prohibit medical training, even to the First Responder level. The majority of firefighters have no desire to become First Responders, let alone Paramedics There is no local ambulance it my community. Closed ambulances are in Chase and Salmon Arm. There is a First Responder unit in my community and from time to time one moves on to become a paramedic, but the majority do not have the desire.

    I am in the First Responder unit so I’m biassed in favour of the current structure. If the ordinary public saw crap the Paramedics deal with daily, they would be up in arms. The government found four billion for the Olympics, fire hundred thousand for a new roof for BC Place Stadium.
    "My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy Douglas 1961.

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    You bring up the topic of privatizing the ambulance service but you fail to realize that here in British Columbia, the BC Ambulance Service is run as a public service and not for profit.

    The Alberta government recently took over all ambulances services in that province. Many private services still have contracts and they will be allowed to run out before amalgamation. Presently in Alberta it cost $834.61 per ambulance response but the patient sees only a 10% user fee. In contrast, here in BC it cost $524.07 per ambulance response but the patient only sees a 15% user fee (a difference of $310.54). Why the difference? Private ambulance services cost more to operate and have to maintain a profit for the owers or shareholders.

    Here's something that many people here are not aware of. Included in that $524.07 is funding for other important programs that are offered to BC residence.

    They are:

    BC NurseLine
    BC BedLine
    BC HealthGuide
    BC HealthGuide Online
    BC HealthFiles
    Dial-A-Dietitian

    You mentioned pirvate services working well in the 60's. They didn't... Too many inconsistencies exisited (hospital, fire based, mom and pop operations, funeral homes, mutual aid, poor or no training, lack of equipment and resources, poor hygene, poor response times, little or no accountability, just to name a few). The BC government of the time, was pressured by the medical community to govern and modernize pre-hospital care. The days of throwing the patient into the back of a truck or car and driving like hell are now gone for ever.

    BC Ambulance has evolved of the the past 35 years to be one of the largest pre-hospital care providers in North America. Many other services throught the world have sent their paramedics here to train. The Canadain Forces (in conjunction with JIBC) train their medics to the PCP level. The Military medics are then precepted by BCAS paramedics in Vancouver.

    Paramedicine has rapidly evolved since it's beginnings and soon for the first time in British Columbia a degree program will be offered. The university component of the training recently recieved it's accreditation.

    BC Ambulance Service has proven it's value by providing a (not for profit) public service to the residents of BC. In 2008/2009 The 3,700 paramedics transported more than 540,000 patients throughout the province. 1 in 8 residence of British Columbia had contact at some point during the year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    What do you smoke? It must be some good stuff. What company pays their divers that?
    Divers get $200 per hour, drivers (Teamsters) make those $30 and $40 an hour wages. Understand that at $30 an hour you make $60,000 a year

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    Unhappy REALLy No Sure This Is A Good Idea on The Government's Part

    New B.C. Ambulance structure 'retribution,' paramedics say

    Canwest News Service March 12, 2010 2:13 AM

    The B.C. government is reorganizing the B.C. Ambulance Service, Health Minister Kevin Falcon announced yesterday, saying the move will help address some of the issues that led to last year's paramedics' strike.

    But the paramedics say it could be used to attack their union.

    The government is removing oversight of the ambulance service from the independent Emergency Health Services Commission and handing it to the Provincial Health Services Authority, which looks after provincewide programs such as B.C. Children's Hospital and cardiac care throughout B.C.

    "What we are doing is more closely integrating [the ambulance service] with the health system," Falcon said.

    He said the transfer will mean more flexibility, which could help rural paramedics who don't have enough work to make a living wage, and part-time workers who want more shifts.

    For example, he said, paramedics could be put to work in emergency rooms or health centres.

    The Health Ministry is also consolidating administrative services in other areas to eliminate duplication and cut costs. Moving the ambulance service into the authority could translate into an ability to find more savings.

    Last year's labour dispute, which followed bitter contract negotiations, ended with the government legislating paramedics back to work.

    A spokesman for Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873, which represents the province's 3,500 paramedics and dispatchers, criticized yesterday's announcement.

    "This is nothing short of retribution by a vindictive health minister," B.J. Chute said.

    Chute said he thinks the move could lead to privatization of some services now provided by the ambulance service and to dismantling of the service's bargaining unit.

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I agree. I can't understand for the life of me why a medic only gets paid $10 to $15 an hour. One pickup and the ambulance gets $500. Yet in this country, we pay truck drivers $30 and $40 per hour. What a world!!!
    Let's consider this as a single rig and say the rig does 1000 calls a year.

    Staffing two medics 24/7 at $15 per hour comes to $262,800, and that doesn't include any benefits. Add 15% for bennies, and we're up to just over $300K per year.

    1000 transports at $500 per transport comes to $500K, if every transport yields 100% of the billed amount.

    That leaves $200K to pay for heat, fuel, facilities, support personnel, maintenance, equipment replacement (including saving for or paying for a replacement rig).

    The margin is razor thin, and often negative.

    Nobody is getting rich doing EMS.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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