Prince Rupert Community Paramedic Jessica Friesen during Paramedic Service Week from May 23 to 29 said it is the toughest day of a person’s life when they have to call 911. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert Community Paramedic Jessica Friesen during Paramedic Service Week from May 23 to 29 said it is the toughest day of a person’s life when they have to call 911. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

B.C. paramedics service more than half a million calls per year

Paramedic Jessica Friesen says it’s the toughest day of a person’s life when they have to call 911

Ambulance paramedics have the most advanced lifesaving skills and training for frontline situations, with more than half a million emergency calls across B.C. that require ambulance dispatch, Troy Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics of BC, said during Paramedic Services Week.

“Our training takes months and years — not hours,” he said

May 23 to 29, 2021 is Paramedic Services Week across Canada, a time to honour and recognize the work of ambulance paramedics.

“This year has seen some of the worst service shortfalls in recent history due to medical leaves, recruitment and retention issues, and a flawed on-call service model,” APBC stated in a media release on May 23.

This year’s theme of Paramedic Services Week is Paramedic as Educator – Citizen Ready.

Prince Rupert has 16 paramedics, two staffed emergency ambulances at all times, as well as community paramedics. Community paramedics specialize in education to prevent 911 calls, and work to stabilize emergency calls to avoid the necessity of a hospital visit. They can do home visits to patients offering educational supports to make them more comfortable. Community Paramedics are licensed at the PCP-IV level or higher to provide non-emergency and scheduled care to patients as part of an integrated healthcare team.

Prince Rupert community paramedic Jessica Friesen, said these services are necessary for rural and smaller communities as there are fewer resources to rely on. The services are vital to communities, and the roles have been constantly changing due to the pandemic conditions with the need to provide the highest service remaining constant.

She said with so many medical emergencies lots of work can go unseen, especially in the pandemic with staff working more shifts, longer shifts, more time needed to clean after a call and there are challenges in communicating with patients through levels of personal protection equipment such as masks and face shields.

For the past two years, Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) said its 4,500 plus members have felt overwhelming love and support from the public due to the global pandemic and worsening opioid crisis with more than 90 overdose calls per day.

“Our ambulance paramedics and emergency dispatchers appreciate the public’s gratitude at a time when dual health emergencies have led our members to physical and psychological exhaustion,” Clifford said.

From the moment someone calls 911 dispatch and asks for an ambulance, they are connected to an emergency dispatcher who is trained to begin what can be lifesaving medical instruction over the phone as a paramedic team heads their way by ground or air.

Friesen said despite any challenges being a paramedic is rewarding, but they work together as a team with the dispatchers to get successful results. “It’s s the toughest day of a person’s life when they have to call 911. Dispatchers are the first ones to talk to patients. We couldn’t do our jobs without them.”


K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Soccer games returned to Max Turyk in Fernie this May and June, after a year-long break due to COVID. (Contributed by Yori Jamin)
Fernie kids get stuck into soccer

Youth soccer games returned to Max Turyk for May and June after a year-long break

A small scale example of how big the maximus dinosaur is compared to Sparwood's Titan truck. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)
Sparwood goes digging for fossils (maybe)

The district is exploring options that could see it acquire a giant dinosaur skeleton

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie's City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Pride launches inclusivity survey

The survey will help identify gaps in supports for the LGBTQ2+ community in the Elk Valley

The freshly re-painted rainbow crossings in Fernie in 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Rainbow crossings come to Fernie

Volunteers painted the crossings at 3rd Ave and 5th Street in Fernie in pride colours

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read