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Ucluelet mayor slams new paramedic model as local ambulance sits unstaffed

BC Emergency Health Services making every effort to recruit as two positions remain unfilled
Ucluelet community paramedic Jesse Law snapped this scenic photo after responding to a call at the top of Mount Ozzard. (Jesse Law photo)

Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel expressed concern last week that the local ambulance station is understaffed, citing problems with the new scheduling structure BC Emergency Health Services(BCEHS) rolled out in April 2021.

BCEHS was swift to reply saying they are making every effort to recruit despite being faced with housing and commuting challenges.

“While the new positions added in the last year offer more jobs with full wages and benefits, the lack of affordable housing and the commuting issues caused by highway closures in the region, have made recruitment challenging,” said BCEHS communications officer Justine Ma in an email to the Westerly.

Ucluelet’s ambulance station currently has four, regular permanent paramedic positions on the payroll. BCEHS is actively recruiting to fill two of those positions.

Noel said he would work on finding immediate solutions.

“The thought that our ambulance is sitting there parked because we don’t have attendants for whatever business model that is happening is concerning for me. It’s very concerning for our neighbour, (Ucluelet First Nation) president Charles McCarthy has more recently had a couple calls where ambulances were coming at a very long distance of Tofino now,” said Noel during the April 19 council meeting.

BCEHS said when an emergency occurs, the closest available paramedic unit responds, which can come from Tofino or Port Alberni. BCEHS also has a dedicated air ambulance helicopter and paramedic crew in Nanaimo, which can support with our emergency response in the region.

Councillor Rachelle Cole, who is Ucluelet’s ambulance chief, declined to comment.

Mayor Noel went on to thank her for her efforts.

“We are really fortunate to have someone in the community that’s working pretty much triple shift in order to keep that car manned as best as you can,” he said.

RELATED: ‘Nobody should have to wait for an ambulance’ — paramedic union president

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