New Brunswick

Paramedics want advanced care training recognized

The Paramedic Association of New Brunswick says the provincial government's refusal to acknowledge advanced care training is hurting patient care and the health care system.

New Brunswick only province that won't allow advanced care paramedics to deal with emergencies.

The group representing paramedics in New Brunswick wants the provincial government to recognize their advanced care members.

Chris Hood, executive director and registrar of the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick, says this is the only province in Canada that does not do so and he contends it's hurting both patient care and the health system.

Hood says there are 45 advanced care paramedics in New Brunswick who can deal with emergency situations, such as administering drugs for heart attacks while en route to a hospital, but under the current rules, they are not allowed to.

Patients must therefore wait until they get to hospital, losing precious time, he said.

"One of the mantras in health care is that 'time is muscle' when it comes to heart attacks. So the more time you take, the more damage to the muscle. And you can't repair that damage," Hood told CBC News.

"So if we can get there quicker, get the medication that patients needs quicker, that means we're decreasing the amount of muscle that's injured."

Hood says administering needed drugs sooner rather than later also means the patient will likely need less time in hospital, decreasing health costs dramatically.

Intensive care beds cost about $10,000 a day, so while advanced care paramedics are paid about 10 per cent more, that money would soon be made up, he said.

"If we can save a number of patients from spending a number of days in intensive care units, that's $10,000 per bed day. It doesn't take a significant amount of patients or a significant amount of bed days before the cost benefit is realized."

The Paramedic Association has set up an online petition for the public on the website, which Hood says will be presented to politicians during the upcoming election campaign.