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Is it too difficult to be a paramedic in British Columbia?


This week on Daybreak we've been following the story of a shortage of ambulance care in remote and rural communities. Cameron Eby is on the provincial executive for the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. union. He says part of the problem is that in order to become a paramedic, you must take nine months of school at a cost of thousands of dollars. This school is usually in larger cities, so people from remote locations must give up other work in order to complete the training. Then when they return to their communities, they don't get full pay unless they are responding to an emergency. He spoke with Betsy Trumpener.

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We have been following this story all week. On Tuesday, we heard about a proposal from the community of Stewart to change how ambulance care in funded and delivered in B.C. They say wait times are "unacceptable" and have support from Prince George city councillor Dave Wilbur who says communities like Stewart are treated like "second-class citizens." We asked Mike Milchako, B.C. Ambulance's Executive Director for Rural Operations for his thoughts. You can listen to that interview below.

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We also spoke with Cindy Ellwood who used to be Stewart's ambulance unit chief, but quit due to stress and a lack of support. She has been offered her job back, but says much would have to change in order for that to happen.

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We have continuously requested an interview with B.C.'s health minister Terry Lake on this issue. That request has not been accepted.

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