WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says the pressure of unrelenting pandemic response has been overwhelming staff as they skip lunch and other breaks to handle emergencies.
To ensure they’re getting enough rest on the job to work safely, paramedics are now being given an additional 15 minutes of break time, which will now last 45 minutes, during which they’ll only be on call for the most critical emergencies. WFPS Chief John Lane says he has spoken with paramedics at 15 different stations across the city to learn about their experiences.
City Protection Committee chair Councillor Sherri Rollins says residents need to know that people responding to their moment of crisis may not have had time for a meal.
Lane says staff are also telling him they don’t want to receive alerts about lack of ambulance availability anymore, which are triggered when there are less than seven vehicles that are able to respond to a new call, as they’re being issued so frequently paramedics start to feel hopeless.
Shared Health says funding for ambulances in Manitoba got a nine per cent boost last year, but they’re working on a new multi-million-dollar funding and service agreement.
For over a month, the WFPS has been working with Shared Health to send nearly 200 patients with less urgent conditions by taxi or with a friend or family member to receive urgent care treatment, but the province is also providing funding for two specialized community response units to further boost medical care logistics.