Emergency Medical Services

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What Is Your job Title?

Primary Care Paramedic (PCP)

What Does a Primary Care Paramedic Do?

I work for a small Saskatchewan Health Region as a casual PCP/EMT. I work between 2 acute care sites.

My job includes working on the Ambulance, attending to emergent calls, as well as transferring patients to other destinations (for example, Saskatoon) for emergent needs and appointments. I work both with the Patient, as well as drive the Ambulance, as required by patient care needs (there are different levels of training for EMS with different skill sets).

I always work with one partner. We are notified via handheld radio through a central dispatch center out of a larger city when we have an emergent call or transfer. We then have up to 8 minutes for emergent calls, and 15 minutes for transfers, to get “booked on air” for the call, meaning we have to be in the ambulance responding to the call.

We are then given information about the patient and location of the call (if an emergent call). We then respond as needed – either with lights and sirens, or not, depending on the patients condition.

We service many small towns in the area, as well as a large rural area. We can be called anywhere in our service area. Sometimes we require the use of quads, snowmobiles or other means in order to get to a patient. Every day is different and you never know what the day will bring.

In this rural environment, we work 24 hour days, up to 6 days in a row. I work 5 hours at the facility each day, and 19 hours “on call”. During our time at the facility when we are not busy with calls, we keep busy with many other tasks. We are responsible for general cleaning of our garages and ambulances, restocking, daily checks of units and equipment, medication/supply expiry checks, and inventory checks.

We have teamed up with home care to do annual safety/Transferring, Lifting, Repositioning (TLR) inspections in all home care clients’ homes. This gives them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have of EMS, as well lets us make suggestions in the home if we were to ever go there on an emergent basis (ex furniture placement).

We have also teamed up with the local nursing homes (within the facilities we work in) to do a walking program with high-risk falls patients, who would not otherwise have many opportunities to walk. We attempt to do this daily, as our availability allows depending on transfers and emergent calls.

What Training Is Necessary to Do Your Work?

As a PCP, I took 3 months of in classroom training with about 5 months of practicum. I will soon be taking an upgrading course to add skills which will consist of 20 hours of online reading and many lab hours.

Where Do You Work?

I work in a hospital/garage on site in a hospital, and on the ambulance

Who Needs Your Services and Why?

General public for emergent needs, and those who need to be transferred to another community for medical treatment and appointments

What Is Your Favourite Part of Your Job?

Working with people and knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life.

What Challenges Do You Have in Your Job?

We are very short staffed, and it is difficult to recruit casual staff to a small community with no guarantee of hours or shifts. Our staff are sometimes very overworked, and given few days off, as there is no one else to do the work. Also, the communities we serve are sometimes left without ambulance coverage due to various leaves of absence and there being no one to cover the shift, so the ambulance is shut down until we have staff again. This can be up to a 24-hour period.

What Are the Consequences When There Are Not Enough People with Your Training to Provide Service?

Our ambulance gets shut down and there may be no one available to deal with an emergency. This results in increased response times as an ambulance would have to come from another community in the event of an emergency, which could lead to unnecessary harm or death.