A Paramedic shortage

A Paramedic shortage

Postby one wheel » Oct 4th, 2020, 11:04 am

It seems hard to believe that a Paramedic would have trouble getting full time employment anywhere in BC while calls for their services are at record levels ?

We constantly hear about the need for Health Care Workers & a person 'can't go wrong' if they decide to enter the medical field at any level ?

Is this being transparent & honest ?
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby alanjh595 » Oct 4th, 2020, 11:13 am

Depends upon the cost of living in that area.

Paramedics don't make all that much money.
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby MAPearce » Oct 4th, 2020, 11:43 am

one wheel wrote:It seems hard to believe that a Paramedic would have trouble getting full time employment anywhere in BC while calls for their services are at record levels ?

We constantly hear about the need for Health Care Workers & a person 'can't go wrong' if they decide to enter the medical field at any level ?

Is this being transparent & honest ?


It's a long and complicated process that could easily be fixed IF any Gov't actually cared to commit to it ....
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby GordonH » Oct 4th, 2020, 11:50 am

Knowing they deal with people generally on their worst day, in many cases their last day/hours.
It can’t be easy to find people willing to do this work for pay they get.

Burnout suspect happens a lot.
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby firsttimecaller » Oct 4th, 2020, 12:27 pm

It's a broken system that needs to be re-vamped for the good of the public. With the vast majority of employees being part time, the public is not well served. When you call 911 people believe they are getting experienced, competent paramedics. That may happen sometimes. More often than not you will get part time employees whose experience is mostly just the training they received in an 8 month certificate program. It's not their fault, the system needs an overhaul. There should be no part time paramedics at all. It's a position that needs to be taken seriously, given full time hours, and compensated appropriately. Until that happens, the general public will not be guaranteed the service they deserve.

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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby Even Steven » Oct 4th, 2020, 4:52 pm

Nobody wants to move to prince George.

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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby mullyman » Oct 5th, 2020, 10:50 am

not true.. young people will move anywhere.. but the wages have to be enough to actually live on.. not the slave wages that the current system delivers to on call employees...

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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby one wheel » Oct 5th, 2020, 11:14 am

My neighbour is planning to move his family to Fort Mac because he can't get steady full time work in Kelowna.

Grande Prairie, Fort Mac or Fort St. John all have good airports which easily connect to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver & other larger centers.

It's a myth that anyone is stuck 'way up North' because it's not true.
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby TylerM4 » Oct 5th, 2020, 4:25 pm

mullyman wrote:not true.. young people will move anywhere.. but the wages have to be enough to actually live on.. not the slave wages that the current system delivers to on call employees...


I hate that term. You know that slaves don't get paid right? that's kinda the whole thing behind actually being a slave.

Also, I find it's often abused even when you consider what it's intended to mean. Your usage is a great example. Indeed, the average salary is just a little shy of $70k/year or $33/hr. If they're slaves, what are people working for 1/2 that rate making min wage?
https://ca.indeed.com/salaries/paramedi ... h-Columbia

The actual reason for the relocating is because they're in a provincial union. New guy off the street means no seniority and you get the small town and/or part time jobs. After you build up seniority you move to the larger towns and full time. It's no different with RCMP in many cases. Gotta pay your dues with the crappy job before you get the nice job in Kelowna. Part of the pitfall of paying the same wage regardless of where they work and part vs full time.
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby dolanduck » Oct 5th, 2020, 6:37 pm

Before explaining the issue, here's a BC Ambulance fun fact: Paramedics were NOT considered essential prior to Covid.

Now onto the issue at hand.

Full time doesn't happen within BC Ambulance just from time served in the service. It only happens by working right in the lower mainland for years and years. So essentially, you have to be willing to work part time in the area of BC with the highest cost of living just to earn your way to a full time position.

There are an abundance of Paramedics who would love to work full time, but the system is incredibly stacked against them. While working part time, most paramedics are stuck on shifts where they are only paid by the call, so sometimes you can be on-shift for your 12 hours, but if no calls come in, you only get $2 an hour for your time waiting for a call (slave wage terminology is justifiable here). Should a call come in, you get 4 hours of your normal rate $25-30 per hour. Most paramedics start out in the outskirt small towns where the station averages around one call every 24 hours, resulting in paramedics commuting hours to an outskirt station where they will actually sit for multiple back-to-back shifts (48-60 hours, 5 shifts) and maybe get two calls, and take home a grand total of about $300, but that does not factor for the expenses of commuting and feeding yourself to even be there to work.

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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby mullyman » Oct 5th, 2020, 9:46 pm

TylerM4 wrote:
mullyman wrote:not true.. young people will move anywhere.. but the wages have to be enough to actually live on.. not the slave wages that the current system delivers to on call employees...


I hate that term. You know that slaves don't get paid right? that's kinda the whole thing behind actually being a slave.

Also, I find it's often abused even when you consider what it's intended to mean. Your usage is a great example. Indeed, the average salary is just a little shy of $70k/year or $33/hr. If they're slaves, what are people working for 1/2 that rate making min wage?
https://ca.indeed.com/salaries/paramedi ... h-Columbia

The actual reason for the relocating is because they're in a provincial union. New guy off the street means no seniority and you get the small town and/or part time jobs. After you build up seniority you move to the larger towns and full time. It's no different with RCMP in many cases. Gotta pay your dues with the crappy job before you get the nice job in Kelowna. Part of the pitfall of paying the same wage regardless of where they work and part vs full time.

fyi.. the term slave wages denotes a situation where people work for a pittance... as far as the average salary, no disagreement there, but that still does not focus on the problem, which is that the b.c.a.s. thinks it is appropriate to have on call workers who earn 2 bucks an hour, in rural, less populated areas. your argument using the rcmp is not a good example, as there are no on call cops. i personally have friends who worked on call here, finally got a posting in vancouver, and 20 years later, had an opportunity to return to a full time posting here. yes, they paid there dues, but no, they weren't getting 2 bucks an hour...i told my daughter, who wanted to be a paramedic , to go to alberta where they are often part of the firefighters union.

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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby TylerM4 » Oct 5th, 2020, 9:55 pm

mullyman wrote:fyi.. the term slave wages denotes a situation where people work for a pittance... as far as the average salary, no disagreement there, but that still does not focus on the problem, which is that the b.c.a.s. thinks it is appropriate to have on call workers who earn 2 bucks an hour, in rural, less populated areas. your argument using the rcmp is not a good example, as there are no on call cops. i personally have friends who worked on call here, finally got a posting in vancouver, and 20 years later, had an opportunity to return to a full time posting here. yes, they paid there dues, but no, they weren't getting 2 bucks an hour...i told my daughter, who wanted to be a paramedic , to go to alberta where they are often part of the firefighters union.


I know what the term means - I simply said I hate it, not that I don't understand it or something.

When I mentioned RCMP it had nothing to do with oncall or oncall pay and was in reference to a completely different topic (why positions are often only available in small towns). Your post reinforces what I was saying vs corrects it.

I agree - the reimbursement as described sucks. Also sounds like the education requirement is quite low - Drivers license, grade 12, and not even a full year of training. I think BCAS is paying like that because they can, despite claims of paramedic shortages.
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby MAPearce » Oct 6th, 2020, 4:14 pm

Full time doesn't happen within BC Ambulance just from time served in the service. It only happens by working right in the lower mainland for years and years


True .. Only two years IF you work " Hells Kitchen " , (dispatch) ...

It's how my Lil sister made full time on the Island , in dispatch for another 10 or so years then she could be a full time "toucher" out of depot in Vic .
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby my5cents » Oct 6th, 2020, 5:58 pm

I'm not a fan of how BCAS administration operates our ambulance service. From my years of observations it's clear to me the ambulance service works fairly well in spite of management. The problem as I see it is that the government down to ambulance administration isn't pressured by BC citizens. The ambulance is basically invisible to the public until they need one and then they are very very important. When something goes wrong and a response time is too slow we all hear about it.

When things are "normal", like a part time paramedic is travelling long distances to sit in a rural ambulance station and earn at times only $24 for a 12 hour shift,,, crickets.

firsttimecaller wrote:............There should be no part time paramedics at all. It's a position that needs to be taken seriously, given full time hours, and compensated appropriately. Until that happens, the general public will not be guaranteed the service they deserve.

So the many long serving paramedics that opt for retirement at a fairly young age, should not be working part time ??

TylerM4 wrote:The actual reason for the relocating is because they're in a provincial union. New guy off the street means no seniority and you get the small town and/or part time jobs. After you build up seniority you move to the larger towns and full time. It's no different with RCMP in many cases. Gotta pay your dues with the crappy job before you get the nice job in Kelowna. Part of the pitfall of paying the same wage regardless of where they work and part vs full time.


So, when you are junior in service with the BCAS you get posted to full time positions in small towns or part time in small towns. After you build up seniority you move to the larger towns (and I gather if you are still part time in the small town) you get full time. It's no different with the RCMP in many cases. ?????

Just about perfect, perfectly incorrect. Centres like the Lower Mainland are NOT sought out be most paramedic or RCMP. The cost of housing, the commute etc etc is a big detractor.

To get full time with the BCAS you have to work in the Lower Mainland. RCMP members coming from Regina (Depot) get posted to the Lower Mainland, they don't have a choice.

dolanduck wrote:...............While working part time, most paramedics are stuck on shifts where they are only paid by the call, so sometimes you can be on-shift for your 12 hours, but if no calls come in, you only get $2 an hour for your time waiting for a call (slave wage terminology is justifiable here). Should a call come in, you get 4 hours of your normal rate $25-30 per hour.


Close, but slightly misleading. If you are on the type of shift where you get $2 an hour, you are on call, it's called a "Kilo Shift". As long as you reside a reasonable distance from the station you can be at home, pager goes off you call in and head to the station. You then get paid a minimum of 4 hours, if the call takes longer you get paid for that time. If the call takes 1 hour, you get paid 4 hours.

dolanduck wrote:Most paramedics start out in the outskirt small towns where the station averages around one call every 24 hours, resulting in paramedics commuting hours to an outskirt station where they will actually sit for multiple back-to-back shifts (48-60 hours, 5 shifts) and maybe get two calls, and take home a grand total of about $300, but that does not factor for the expenses of commuting and feeding yourself to even be there to work.


You are still talking about the Kilo shift. Depending on the area, if the station you are working at gets a very low call volume there is what is called a "Kilo guarantee". It means in those stations IF you don't get a call in the 12 hour call out period, you get paid 4 hours, plus the $2 and hour standby. The problem arises in the "grey area" stations. They aren't slow enough to have the Kilo guarantee and they aren't busy enough so that at lease one call on a 12 hours standby shift is very likely.

mullyman wrote:.......... the problem, which is that the b.c.a.s. thinks it is appropriate to have on call workers who earn 2 bucks an hour, in rural, less populated areas. your argument using the rcmp is not a good example, as there are no on call cops.


You sure about that ?
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Re: A Paramedic shortage

Postby Staredintoabyss » Oct 7th, 2020, 8:32 am

The way the system is structured is creating its own bottlenecks.

The pay and advancement structure limits who is able to fulfill the role. Many people cannot live on the existing structure due elements that cannot be changed in their own lives.

I dipped my toe in these waters and spoke to a lot of people who did this. Many used industrial jobs to get experience and develop higher accreditation, industrial jobs that are no longer there.

Concensus from those I spoke to: this is an issue of how our system for this works, it is cumbersome and bureaucratic in a way that creates barriers and deters would be applicants.
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