‘It’s going to definitely save lives’: N.B. to expand Advanced Care Paramedics program
It’s taken a decade of debate and a successful two-year-pilot project, but the green light has finally been given for Advanced Care Paramedics in New Brunswick.
Scott Hoyt is among the first wave of paramedics who've been able to use the advanced training on patients.
"Helping them to breathe a little better, helping to ease their pain, maybe stopping a seizure – those types of things are being done in the province now," Hoyt says.
The two-year pilot project was only being implemented in Moncton, Saint John and Bathurst. But now Advanced Care Paramedics will be a permanent service province-wide.
"We had to have a New Brunswick-made solution because of the specifics of our province," says Health Minister Benoit Bourque.
New Brunswick is the last province to implement the program, and the issue has come up on many occasions.
In 2011, international student Yee Fan Jason Wang drowned during a visit to the Saint John Aquatic Centre. At a coroner's inquest, one of the paramedics testified that had he been in Nova Scotia, he would have been able to use adrenaline to restart the teen's heart.
Paramedics now say patient care will improve.
"It's going to definitely save lives,” says Phil Comeau of the new Brunswick Paramedics Association. “The numbers are there. They're showing they're going to be well utilized."
It’s an issue that both government and opposition now agree on.
"Advanced Care Paramedics are an essential part of the system, and I'm very glad to see that program expanded," says PC MLA Brian MacDonald.
Scott Hoyt says the advanced skills may also bring peace of mind.
"(Paramedics) live with many memories in our minds, and some of those memories are when we have felt helpless and we weren't able to do anything," says Hoyt.
The first expansion of the advanced care paramedic program will occur in Fredericton.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.