Summerland will soon have eight full-time permanent paramedics, providing emergency coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At the Summerland council meeting on Oct. 12, Joe Puskaric, district manager of patient care delivery with B.C. Ambulance said the community is hiring six additional full-time paramedics. They will be in place as of Nov. 30. The change in the structure of ambulance stations had been announced in the summer.
At present, the Summerland ambulance station has two full-time paramedics and around 15 on-call paramedics.
On average there are around 120 calls a month in Summerland, or four to five calls a day, Puskaric said.
Under the new model, the full-time paramedics will staff one of the two ambulances at the Summerland station, with the on-call paramedics staffing the other ambulance.
In addition, the on-call paramedics will provide relief when a full-time paramedic is off for any reason.
The shift to more full-time paramedics is happening around the province. “The changes at the Summerland station are being echoed across the province,” Puskaric said.
He added that the new system is expected to improve response times for paramedic calls within the community.
Elsewhere in the region, concerns about ambulance response times have been raised.
Over the summer, Bob Coyne, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen director for rural Princeton, said there were severe issues with response times, citing a three-hour wait time for an overdose call.
Ron Obirek, the regional district’s director for the area Skaha East and Okanagan Falls, also said there have been ongoing concerns about response times in rural areas.
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