Smithers college course brings paramedics to new levels

A new program at the Northwest Community College (NWCC) in Smithers is bringing high level paramedic training to rural ambulance workers.

A new program at the Northwest Community College (NWCC) in Smithers is bringing high level paramedic training to rural ambulance workers.

The Justice Institute of B.C. has teamed up with the NWCC to bring the Primary Care Paramedic Program, which is the second level of ambulance training in the province.

The first level is Emergency Medical Responder.

All of the students in this current program, 12 in the current intake, are currently medical responders for BC Ambulance.

This training, which traditionally isn’t well available in rural communities, means paramedics can provide even better support to their patients.

Greg Wright, the JIBC’s regional training coordinator, said that this second level of training begins with anatomy and physiology and moves onto other topics such as administering IVs and protocols for various medicines.

“What this means is they can actually assist patients by providing drugs to patients in situations they normally wouldn’t be able to receive them, particularly in rural communities,” added Steven Mills, the JIBC’s PCP program coordinator. “They can actually take, for example, a patient who is having an asthma attack and they can provide that patient medication.”

This new level of training will also help paramedics handle patients on longer trips.

“In rural communities there’s often a lot of transport time to hospital, so sometimes paramedics really need to be able to provide fluid replacement to keep patients alive until they can get to the hospital,” said Mills.

NWCC Smithers campus principal Regina Saimoto said this program is in response to a need expressed in many communities, including Smithers.

“It’s great for our community to have this level of training,” said Saimoto.

The program is also running in Port McNeill and will open in the future in Dawson Creek and Kamloops.

The students in this program have come from all over the northwestern region.

Saimoto adds that this is a part-time program meaning people can continue to work while training.

“The more of those obstacles that we can take away in terms of accessibility…makes it more likely that people can take advantage of those opportunities,” she said.