Paramedic fund aids rural health care

Prospective paramedics are encouraged to apply for the Emergency Medical Assistant (EMA) Education Fund.

Prospective paramedics are encouraged to apply for the Emergency Medical Assistant (EMA) Education Fund which has provided financial support for training over 400 paramedics since its inception in 2007.

“The bursary meant everything to me,” said Port McNeill paramedic Claudette Wilson. “The paramedic training program, which was delivered locally, helped me achieve one of my personal career goals and increased the level of pre-hospital care available in the community.”

To date, the EMA Education Fund has helped 301 individuals study toward the Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) designation and 104 more upgrade their credentials to the Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) level; the total amount of funds disbursed is $3.5 million.

“It’s challenging to change careers and upgrade your training when you have family responsibilities,” said Summerland paramedic Danny Jones, a two-time bursary recipient. “I’m passionate about working as a paramedic and the EMA Education Fund will help me transition from part-time to a full-time career.”

Bursaries for the PCP program are $5,000 and $22,000 for the ACP program. The bursary awards support students by assisting with the costs for tuition, books, fees and other expenses. Preferential consideration is given to PCP applicants who are willing to practice in rural or remote locations.

“Better-trained paramedics means higher quality emergency medical care for patients and communities throughout British Columbia,” said BC Ambulance Service Chief Operating Officer Les Fisher. “The bursary is a valuable tool that helps students offset the costs of post-secondary education and supports our targeted recruitment efforts underway in many rural and remote areas of the province.”

The next application deadline is June 28. Further information is available through the JIBC website. There are three application deadlines throughout the year.

With an initial $3 million grant to the Vancouver Foundation, BC Emergency Health Services, formerly the Emergency and Health Services Commission, and the Ministry of Health helped establish the Fund to support the training and development of paramedics, particularly those in smaller communities. Since the initial grant, the Ministry of Health has provided the Vancouver Foundation with an additional $2 million and the Provincial Health Services Authority has provided funding of $3 million.

A committee with members from local governments, health authorities, CUPE Local 873 and BC Emergency Health Services reviews the applications and selects the successful candidates. The Vancouver Foundation administers the EMA Education Fund.

BCAS operates under the authority of BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) to provide residents and healthcare professionals with access to pre-hospital emergency and patient transfer services. BCEHS is a division of the Provincial Health Services Authority which manages high-quality specialized health care services across BC.

BCAS is recruiting paramedics in many rural communities throughout the province. Please visit www.bcas.ca for more information about employment opportunities. A video with further information about working as a paramedic is available at www.careertrekbc.ca/episode/paramedic.