Better pay needed for rural ambulance workers, committee says

  • Mar. 21, 2011 9:00 a.m.

The remuneration for on-call ambulance attendants is not enough, given the process trainees have to go through and commitment they must make, say Moresby Island Management Committee members. Ambulance drivers get $2 an hour for an on-call 12 hour shift, during which time they can’t drink or be further than eight minutes from the station. If they get called out, they make $14 an hour, said committee member Emmy O’Gorman at the March 10 MIMC meeting. “How on earth are we going to get people to join ambulance when this is what they get?” she said. She brought the matter up based on an action item on MIMC’s to do list. She didn’t want the committee to mislead people into taking a “crap” job. The training is expensive and is paid for by the would-be ambulance attendants, as are the medical exams one has to take. She said the BC Ambulance Services website is very vague about the training commitments for new recruits, but the more you get into it, the more commitments you have to make. Another MIMC member who works for the ambulance agrees. “It’s a huge commitment and they don’t tell you that,” said Kristi Schmitz. She has spent 10 years in the ambulance service and said she wouldn’t be the right person to talk to about it if anyone is considering the career. “You put out a lot and don’t get much back,” she said of the on-call model the BC Ambulance. “I’m not going to sell you on it.” She did all the training to become a full-fledged paramedic, but lost her licence because she didn’t go out on enough calls. She said she would have to take three weeks off her full-time wage earning job to re-certify. “I can’t justify that,” she said. Other committee members were upset by a meeting with BC Ambulance officials before Christmas. “Small town BC is being kicked and kicked,” said committee member Robert Chisholm. He said Sandspit residents were told that they’d lose their ambulance if they didn’t get more recruits. “On the other hand $2 for ambulance is better than nothing for the volunteer fire department,” he said. “Small town BC has to be different. This cookie cutter approach is great for the city but sucks for the rest of us,” said Ms O’Gorman.