DAWSON CREEK – Ambulance stations in Dawson Creek and Chetwynd will soon be staffed around the clock, cutting down on response times, Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom announced today.

“The province is investing $3 million in a new paramedic deployment model, allowing for faster emergency response to improve patient care,”

said Lekstrom. “We’re putting patients first by reducing the time between when the emergency call is made, and an ambulance arrives.

Getting access to care quickly can make all the difference for someone in the middle of a medical crisis.

Under the new model, paramedics on standby shifts are paid $10 an hour while remaining in the ambulance station. When they respond to an ambulance call, their pay increases to the full standard hourly rate, which can range from $20 to $24.

Under the old model, paramedics in rural areas were paid $2 per hour to carry pagers for on-call coverage while out in the community. Some urban communities had on-call coverage at night.

Conversion to the new model is taking place throughout the province between now and June 2005. It is expected to be complete in Dawson Creek by March 1, and Chetwynd by May 1.

“Clearly, paramedics can respond more quickly when they’re already at the ambulance station. This new model will expedite responses by eliminating the need for on-call paramedics to travel to the station before they go out on an ambulance call,” said Ward Minifie, B.C.

Ambulance superintendent for the Peace River region. “In additon to the roll-out of the Standby Model at the provincial level, the Peace Region has added two on-call positions in the City of Dawson Creek. The need for added resources was identified during a recent review of operational staffing levels. The new positions in that community will supplement our current response capabilities.”

The new deployment model is part of a Memorandum of Agreement approved by the Ambulance Paramedics of BC in November 2004. The $3 million is a budgeted expenditure.

Dawson Creek has one ambulance station, staffed by 20 paramedics, Chetwynd has one ambulance station, staffed by 16 paramedics.

Response times are affected by a number of factors, including the volume of calls received on any given day or night.