News

Paramedic shortage to be short-lived

BY CHRISTINE PENNER POLLE

If you’re considering a career as a land ambulance-based paramedic, now might be the time to move ahead on those plans.

While the Northwest EMS is facing a shortage of paramedics across the board, the situation is particularly critical in Red Lake where there are four vacancies. This represents nearly half of the paramedic positions at the Red Lake site.

For the past six weeks the staff schedule has been shuffled to accommodate the lack of personnel. The usual daily 24-hour coverage by on-site paramedics has been adjusted, with some shifts now covered by on-call staff.

“It’s a temporary thing,” KDSB Director of EMS Andrew Tickner stated, “We expect to have people in place by the summer.”

While the northwest is experiencing a shortage of paramedics, there isn’t a lack of trained paramedics in the province as a whole. Tickner indicated that Northwest EMS was in the process of interviewing upwards of 35 applicants for the 12 positions that are currently open in the region. He acknowledged that sometimes it’s difficult to recruit applicants, particularly young people, to a small, remote community like Red Lake. This difficulty is accentuated by the lack of affordable housing in our community.

“We do try to recruit locally,” Tickner explained to The Northern Sun News, “Red Lake has been stable for so long, it just happens that a number of people have left over the last year.”

Once the new people have been hired, Tickner expects there to be a lag time until the Red Lake site is back to normal. New recruits need to be trained and oriented to both the Northwest EMS and site hospitals protocols.

“It takes about three months from the time we decide on the new hires until they are completely trained and orientated,” he added.

Northwest EMS, under the direction of the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB), is responsible for providing emergency pre hospital care in the District of Kenora, which includes Red Lake and Ear Falls. There are nine stations and 96 paramedics in the district.

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