British Columbia expanding live-saving tools available to first responders

Government of B.C.
Adrian Dix, B.C.'s health minister, will provide an update on emergency first responders Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

British Columbia says it is providing paramedics and first responders with more resources on the job, as well as an increase in mental health supports for emergency workers.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is adding more life-saving intervention skills for paramedics including using portable ultrasound to better assess patients, enhancing airway management skills and providing life-supporting or sustaining medications during a patient’s transport to hospitals.

Firefighters will also be allowed to provide additional diagnostic testing, such as checking blood pressure and blood glucose to help paramedics deal with life-threatening allergic reactions.

The new measures announced today come after B.C. said in July that it was overhauling the ambulance service to reduce wait times for the most serious 911 calls after complaints about long delays during medical emergencies.

At the time, Dix said calls had increased dramatically during a record-breaking heat wave this summer that killed almost 600 people when paramedics were already under pressure from the overdose crisis.

Dix said today that the province has also added 85 full-time paramedics and 65 dispatchers, as well as 22 new ambulances.

Watch the full news conference below:

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