Sunday, August 5, 2007

Letter to the Premier

Okay, so in May I wrote this letter to the Premier regarding working conditions for BCs paramedics. It was a good letter. It took me 3 weeks to write it, with several drafts and 4 or 5 peoples' input regarding editing, and I emailed it to the premier at the end of May. Near the end of June I recieved a reply, though not from the premier. It was from the COO of BC Ambulance, to whom it had been forwarded for the purposes of being answered. Her reply was thoroughly unsatisfactory, as she invalidated half of what I had addressed, and ignored the other half. I left the letter idea alone for awhile, but any of my coworkers who heard about the existance of 'the letter'~fast becoming infamous~ wanted to read it, and all of them encouraged me to not let it drop. Many of them offered to co-sign it if I wanted to pursue the idea.
So, I've hatched a plan. I can't offer all of my energies to this idea, but it's worth another shot! I have faxed a copy of the letter to my union and am requesting that it be read at the next annual ambulance paramedics union convention, which is to be held in Richmond the first weekend of October (which I plan to attend). I also plan on re-sending it to the premier's office with a request that it be read by the premier and not forwarded to other people~perhaps with some other signatures attached to it?
I'm not a political person, per se; but I think that some really wonderful people who happen to be paramedics are being very poorly treated by 'the system' that employs them, and I'm tired of it. What other profession pays so little to employees with professional training and an essential role in our society? Sometimes, I can't even believe I jump through the hoops I jump through at work, and most people who hear the details of my employment are very surprised anyone would want to do my job for so little compensation. Most health care workers who are willing to work in remote locations are paid extra, but paramedics are paid less. A LOT less. I think the system is designed to be like firefighting, where in rural communities volunteers carry pagers as they go about their normal life, and drop everything to respond if there is a fire. The problem inherent in this design being applied to paramedicine is that it takes a certain level of medical training to be a paramedic, above the level of a volunteer firefighter in a rural community, and this medical training costs upwards of $6000 and requires travelling to an urban centre where our training facilities exist. Once a person is hired as a paramedic, they must maintain their license with minimum requirements regarding 'patient contacts' and continuing medical education, again not available in small communities. The degree of medical training required and the continuing education and patient contact commitments are too difficult for a volunteer to maintain. As a result, most rural communities have VERY few local paramedics, so we are 'imported' as it were, but not financially compensated, as nurses and doctors in rural communities are. If it were possible to make a living as a paramedic in the province's rural communities, these rural locations would no longer have ambulance staffing problems. There are plenty of people who love to live in rural settings who would rather live and work there, but if they are paramedics they can't because it is not possible to make a living at it!
Not sure if anyone is still reading this.....
This is my rant for the day.....

2 comments:

Roboseyo said...

been on my blog lately?

Lynne Reside said...

You rock, Melissa. If you need any help with this, I can help. I am the queen of writing advocacy letters to government. I am happy to see the tradition being carried on by my niece!