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Island ambulance stations now have more staff, longer hours, better coverage

Coastal communities around Vancouver Island have upgraded ambulance stations, to provide better coverage and staff working conditions.

All 16 communities in the Island Health region have now switched from a scheduled on-call system to one of three new models, which all increase hours of coverage by paramedics.

“In our many discussions with community leaders in these rural and remote communities we heard how critically important paramedic services are to them,” said Leanne Heppell, BCEHS’ Chief Ambulance Officer, in a news release. “These improved paramedic staffing models and the increase in full-time and regular part-time positions together with the changes we are making to enhance community paramedicine services are an exciting investment in the health and well-being of our patients in rural and remote British Columbia.”

Three communities including Gabriola Island, Gold River, and Quadra Island have had their stations upgraded to 24-7 coverage, with eight full-time positions.

Other communities now have paramedics at the ready twice as often, and on the North Island Zeballos has a new full-time paramedic unit chief.

Government agencies, the paramedics union, and health ministry agreed last year to change staffing models to better serve smaller communities, while also improving recruitment and retention of paramedics.

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