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Province expanding first responders’ care arsenal

The B.C. government is changing and expanding the care and treatment that paramedics and first responders can provide.

Provincial officials said it will give paramedics the ability to provide more life-saving interventions, depending on their licensing level.

The changes include needle decompression for major chest traumas to support breathing, using portable ultrasound and providing life-supporting or sustaining medications during transport.

“By increasing the care, information and support that both paramedics and first responders can provide in an emergency, we are taking action to ensure that patients get the best care possible from a team of emergency providers,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

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“For patients, this means that paramedics and first responders who respond to medical emergencies will be even better able to manage it all and get you through the most critical moment of your life.”

The province is also providing additional diagnostic testing for first responders and making sure they have access to enough epinephrine when dealing with life-threatening allergic reactions.

B.C. government officials said they will be working closely with training institutions to ensure first responders are well equipped.

“We hear gratitude from patients on a daily basis for the expert care they receive from our paramedics, and these practice changes will help support that work,” said Leanne Heppell, interim chief ambulance officer, BC Emergency Health Services.

“We very much appreciate our important partnership with firefighters/first responders, and look forward to collaborating even more closely on the scope of practice changes announced today.”

The B.C. government said they also fulfilled a promise made back in July by hiring 85 new full-time paramedics and converting 24 rural and remote ambulance stations from on-call to staffed.

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