Brian Twaites has been with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) for 38 years and with so much valuable experience under his belt, he’s inviting locals looking for a new and fulfilling career to follow in his footsteps.
The seasoned paramedic says anyone interested in finding out more about this rewarding career can come and meet local ambulance service paramedics at an open house in Rossland on Friday, July 28. The event will be held at the ambulance station.
“BCEHS last year launched a national and international recruitment drive to get more paramedics, call-takers and dispatchers working for our organization, and it’s been quite successful,” said Twaites, who also serves as a public information officer.
He says there has been a perceived shortage in all health care and emergency services brought on by the pandemic, but Twaites is buoyed by the response of communities and the success of the program so far.
“We’ve been working really hard with this national campaign, and we’ve actually seen a very large improvement in our staffing levels across the province, so it has been quite successful.”
But Twaites says they still need more dedicated and caring individuals.
Entry level applicants can become an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), and from there go on to become a Primary Care Paramedic, Advanced Care Paramedic, and/or a Critical Care Paramedic.
In addition to working emergency call outs, others deliver primary care to remote residences, work as patient-transfer coordinators, call-takers and dispatchers.
A variety of organizations offer certification including the Justice Institute, the Columbia Academy, the Red Cross and post-secondary institutions.
BCEHS has also introduced the EMR program to many high schools in the Lower Mainland and is looking to expand the program across the province.
“If we have an interested and engaged youth that takes this EMR training, they leave high school with a certificate that can put them to work,” said Twaites. “For example, when they’re 19 years of age they can come work for us, they can go into industry, they can go into a variety of different fields with this EMR certificate to support them.
“And if we have more people in our community trained with basic CPR and first aid, or an EMR certificate, it’s just that much better for the people of the community.”
BCEHS also recently ratified a new collective agreement with the ministry of health in January, giving ambulance paramedics and dispatchers healthy wage increases and creating a targeted wage redesign grid to improve retention.
Before taking his current position, Twaites worked as a street paramedic for BCEHS in downtown Vancouver for 36 years. While technology and medicine has changed, he says the most important part of the job stays the same.
“As paramedics we are present at the beginning of life and we are present at the end of life in many different situations,” said Twaites.
“It’s an honour to be able to take part in all of those situations, to know that you are helping people.”
On average, BCEHS responds to over 500,000 ground events and 7,800 air events every year.
The open house in Rossland is on Friday, July 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rossland ambulance station at 2471 Columbia Ave. The event will provide an opportunity to meet paramedics and offer onsite applications and walk-in interviews. Entry level training is available.
For more information visit BCEHS.ca/joinus or call 250.231.2376.