Citizens concerned about the shortage of paramedics at the Winlaw ambulance station packed Slocan village council chambers last week to hear a delegation from the BC Ambulance Service.
The Winlaw station has been essentially been defunct since last December, due to staff shortages.
Mayor Jessica Lunn said council initially invited Winlaw ambulance driver Stephanie Whitney and part-time paramedic Ruth Peirson.
“People were voicing their concerns over the lack of ambulance service in Winlaw,” said Lunn, “so we invited them to update council to learn more about the situation.”
Instead, BC Ambulance sent a delegation consisting of East Kootenay superintendent Jason Twells, area director Paul Swaine, and New Denver unit chief Sara Rainford.
Lunn said there were several questions from the public and concern was voiced for the volunteer first responders from Passmore and Slocan carry the burden of ambulatory calls. Lunn said setting volunteers up to deal with medical situations creates “huge pressure.”
The mayor reiterated council’s and residents’ concerns that proper ambulance service to a hospital is a one-hour wait. “It’s a regional concern,” she said.
According to BC Emergency Health Services’ current job postings, BC Ambulance has openings in Castlegar, Kaslo, Fruitvale, Nakusp, Nelson, New Denver, Riondel, Rossland, Salmo, Winlaw, and Trail.
The delegation said BC Ambulance has received a number of applications and is “actively recruiting” staff for Winlaw. They also said their intent is to fund emergency medical responders’ training to take place in Winlaw, although a date has yet to be set.
Council agreed to put information on how to apply for the ambulance service in the village newsletter.