It is a vital service in our community, but it needs people to keep it going. The British Columbia Ambulance Service is hiring part-time paramedics in Golden, as the local detachment is struggling with their limited staff.
“We’re looking for people, and we’ve actually had lots of inquiries. A number of people are interested in the EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) course,” said Ron Oszust, Golden unit chief. “The process is that they need to apply to BC Ambulance, get an employee number with BC Ambulance, and then at that point, if we have six or more people, they will put on an EMR course here in Golden.”
The Golden station is currently operating with 16 members, only eight of whom live in Golden. One comes in from Field, and the rest reside in Alberta, and come to Golden for a block of shifts.
“We are somewhat short-staffed at this point in time in Golden,” said Oszust.
Golden is a busy station, and has gotten even more so over the past decade. When Oszust started in his position in 2000, the station averaged about 450 calls a year, and now they get called out between 800 and 1,000 times a year.
“We’ve seen some interesting changes. Historically, one third of our calls were motor vehicle accidents on the highway, one third were transfers, and one third were medical calls,” said Oszust. With better road and vehicle construction, the station is seeing fewer motor vehicle accidents, and the ones they do attend, often have a more favourable result. Medical calls have increased significantly, as have transfer calls which most often go to Calgary or Cranbrook.
Ideally the station would like to have between 20 and 24 staff (although the number depends greatly on how much availability those staff have).
“It is structured as such that each employee makes himself available for however many shifts he wants to do,” said Oszust.
“The staff have the full flexibility for making themselves available for one or two 12-hour shifts a month, or 40 12-hour shifts a month.”
Given this type of scheduling, the job tends to attract young, single, lifestyle oriented people said Oszust.
“This job is fantastic if you want flexibility. You can work every day for a month, or you can take a month off and it’s OK.”
The qualifications for the job are not as strict as you may think. BC Ambulance is willing to provide much of the training. New members are required to go through a criminal record check, have a certain physical ability, possess a Class 4 drivers license, be 19 years of age or older, and preferably have the two-week OFA (occupational first aid) course, however the station will be hiring people with no first aid training.
The hope is to get enough people interested to provide the EMR course here in town (which is an incentive in itself as it is quite an expensive course if you take it on your own).
“This job, such as with most emergency response jobs, attracts a certain type of folk,” said Oszust. “It is a wonderfully flexible job, and it is a cool job. It’s fun to help people, and often you’re helping people in the worst moments of their lives, people don’t get exposed to this stuff on a regular basis.”
If you are interested in becoming part of BC Ambulance, or have any questions, you can contact Oszust at 250-344-8448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.