A collaborative effort between Ambulance New Brunswick, Department of Health, and the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick, will see the Province's Paramedics work in conjunction with other healthcare professionals, to vaccinate the public against COVID-19.
In an ongoing evolution of their practice, Primary Care Paramedics learned yesterday that their scope of practice had been further enhanced, to cover the administration of vaccines.
Primary Care Paramedics had already been delivering a variety of medications to their patients via the intramuscular route, however, the National Occupational Competency Profile for Primary Care Paramedics, did not specifically include the administration of vaccines.
In a memo to Paramedics released yesterday, Vice President of Ambulance New Brunswick, JP Savoie said,
"We are grateful for the partnership that made this happen and are exceedingly proud of the service we provide to our patients; a service that includes COVID-19 screening, testing, and now the administration of vaccines."
The Competency Profile for the Province's Advanced Care Paramedics already included the administration of vaccines, however, this enhancement will allow all Paramedics throughout the province, to assist with vaccination efforts.
Pandemic Response | How are Paramedics Helping?
Since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered last March, Paramedics have played a vital role in the provincial response.
Paramedics have assisted with the set up of drive-thru clinics and have also responded to outbreaks in long term care facilities, throughout the province.
In these facilities, Paramedics provide testing and incident command expertise, all in an effort to ensure outbreaks are contained as soon as possible and that lives are protected.
Paramedics have also been providing mobile testing in their communities, ensuring those who are unable to present themselves to a testing site, are still able to access a test. This has been a great assistance to individuals who lack a means of transportation or who are too sick to travel.
Paramedics also provide assessment and screening to individuals who activate 911.
Paramedics have proven their ability to evaluate the severity of symptoms and refer patients directly for testing. In some cases, this avoids the need for transport to the Emergency Room altogether, further protecting the public from potential exposure to the virus.
Fight continues to be classified as "Medical Professionals."
Despite ongoing evolution and enhancements to their practice, Paramedics still find themselves in a seemingly never-ending battle with their own union, CUPE 1252, to be classified as Medical Professionals.
A hearing to decide the fate of Paramedics is currently underway, with witness testimony being heard last month.
A Classification Analysis performed by the Provincial Government in 2019, concluded that the role of Paramedics had evolved substantially.
The Analysis concluded that the role of Paramedics had evolved from that of primarily transporting patients to hospital, to now seeing Paramedics operate as more of "an extension to the emergency room."
During the virtual hearing, the Provincial Government argued that the duties of Paramedics now include the performance of thorough patient assessments, the use of complex diagnostic equipment, as well as the performance of technical skills, all in an effort to arrive at a "field diagnosis."
This ability to formulate a field diagnosis, allows Paramedics to begin providing treatment, with an intent to improve the patient condition, while en route to hospital.
Joel Mattatall, Chair of the Committee who sought a proper classification on behalf of Paramedics, said,
"Paramedics are proud to play a vital role in protecting the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve. Though we find ourselves in a head-to-head battle with our very own union, we rest comfortably in the belief that ongoing evolutions in our practice, such as those announced yesterday, will be the truth that will set us free and that we will finally be classified as the Medical Professionals we know ourselves to be."
Final oral arguments set to be heard on March 24th, 2021.
Individuals interested in watching the final oral arguments, are invited to request a login code from the Labour & Employment Board, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.