TUMBLER RIDGE – Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd are two of 73 rural and remote B.C. communities that will welcome the Community Paramedicine Initiative, a program that offers residents enhanced health services from paramedics. Both Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd will get one full-time equivalent.

The program is part of the B.C. government’s plan to enhance primary care service delivery to British Columbians. Under this program, paramedics will provide basic health-care services, within their scope of practice, in partnership with local health-care providers, delivered in non-urgent settings, in patients’ homes or in the community.

“Getting access to health care services can be a challenge in a rural area like the South Peace,” Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier said. “We’re delivering the kind of service my constituents have been asking for with today’s announcement.”

The services provided may include checking blood pressure, assisting with diabetic care, helping to identify fall hazards, medication assessment, post-injury or illness evaluation, and assisting with respiratory conditions. The paramedics will perform assessments requested by the referring health-care professional, and record their findings for the patient’s file. The enhanced role will not replace care provided by health professionals such as nurses, but will complement and support their work.

Initially introduced in the province in 2015 in nine prototype communities, including Chetwynd, the Community Paramedicine Initiative is now expanding provincewide, including 18 communities in northern B.C.

Community paramedics are expected to be delivering community health services in northern B.C., including Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, this fall.

BC Emergency Health Services has been co-ordinating the implementation of community paramedicine with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873), the First Nations Health Authority and others.