Fernie’s ambulance station is being upgraded to a 24/7 Alpha designation, which carries eight full time paramedics. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Fernie’s ambulance station is being upgraded to a 24/7 Alpha designation, which carries eight full time paramedics. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Enhanced paramedic resources coming to Fernie, says Health Minister

Fernie one of 24 communities getting a 24/7 Apha designation, Elkford to get additional help as well

Fernie is one of two dozen communities across the province that will be converting it’s ambulance station to 24/7 Alpha, meaning it will have a complement of eight full-time paramedics.

The announcement, made by Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday, Sept. 14, also includes beefed up staffing for an additional 26 rural smaller stations, including Elkford, which is getting more permanent paramedic jobs starting Nov. 1.

“When we call 911 for help, British Columbians need to feel confident that help is on the way and that it will arrive quickly,” said Dix. “The significant progress made by BC Emergency Health Services over the summer will ensure a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it. Better support for paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.”

The announcement is in addition to measures unveiled in July following an unprecedented heat wave, where Dix promised 85 new full-time paramedics in larger urban centres, as well as 30 new dispatchers.

According to the province, Leanne Heppell, interim chief ambulance officer for BC Emergency Health Services, has been working to roll out changes to staffing models, particularly in rural and remote areas.

“We are on track with filling new paramedic and dispatch positions and I know this is going to create more stability in our staffing and improve our emergency medical response and our community paramedic services in rural and remote B.C. in particular,” said Heppell. “We are also working to make BCEHS a truly great employer where our employees are healthy and supported in their important work caring for patients.”

The province adds that 271 paramedics have been hired by BCEHS since January.

Other regional communities that will see a 24/7 Alpha designation include Kimberley, Revelstoke, Sicamous and Golden.

While 24 stations in the province received the 24/7 Alpha designation, a further 26 stations in smaller areas, including Elkford, are moving from an on-call model to more permanent paramedic staffing model.