British Columbia has one of the busiest emergency medical services in the world, taking and dispatching service among B.C’s 4.5 million people. Approximately 4,500 paramedics and emergency dispatchers are currently working on the front lines of B.C.’s public health emergencies. Paramedics are the most highly trained, front line medical professionals in the province. Their superior training and equipment means they are able to provide the best treatment for patients.
In 2016, the demand for paramedics and emergency dispatchers intensified when the opioid crisis began to wreak havoc on communities across British Columbia. Calls for paramedics have spiked considerably. At times, paramedics are responding to up to 170 overdose-related calls in one day.
As the fentanyl crisis shows no signs of slowing down, paramedics and dispatchers are stretched thin. These men and women are tackling a grueling cycle of being overworked and burnt out due to lack of funds for more resources.
Not only that, with lacking government research on rural communities, recruiting and retaining paramedics outside of metropolitan areas has proven challenging. APBC lacks adequate government funding to support permanent part-time paramedics in rural areas.
The workload placed on paramedics is huge. It’s not uncommon for paramedics to work 16 hours straight because of a staffing shortage.
Paramedics are the most highly trained, frontline medical professionals in B.C. but do not have enough ambulances and resources to provide emergency care to the B.C. residents who need it.
Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) is also known as CUPE local 873. APBC is one of the largest local unions in CUPE.