The newly formed College of Paramedics has caused quite a stir in 13 Manitoba municipalities, including the town of Niverville.  

In June 2022, Mayor Myron Dyck noted that changes would be coming to the requirements of Emergency Medical Responders (EMR).  

The most concerning to Dyck at the time was how this would affect the younger recruits and how they could retain current volunteers

Currently, Niverville has 20 firefighters with EMR classifications. Once they age out or retire they will need to adhere to the new requirements, which Dyck says is problematic.

Niverville Fire and EMS with Jaws of LifeNiverville Fire and EMS with Jaws of Life

On April 25, 2023, Mayors and Reeves from 13 Manitoba municipalities met in Portage la Prairie, with the College of Paramedics in hopes of having their concerns heard. (Manitoba has 137 municipalities.) 

The meeting was also attended by representatives from St. John's Ambulance, the Canadian Red Cross, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Shared Health, and the Life Saving Society.

The individuals representing the 13 municipalities shared their concerns with the College of Paramedics regarding the new training requirements as well as other ongoing concerns from Manitoba residents. 

Mayor Dyck noted, "I don't know about the other 124, but we're fighting to not lose our EMRs."  

One of the municipalities' main concerns stemmed from the increase in training hours, from 120 hours to over 300 hours. With that increase in training would come the expense of needing to drive into Winnipeg for the training, as well as paying for the books and classes, and the need for those volunteers to take time off work to attend the courses.

Currently, the College of Paramedics suggests that those who attend a medical emergency, for example at a vehicle collision, will have only one of two qualifications. They will have either first aid or paramedic qualifications, changing the definition of a First Responder. To which Dyck responds, 

“A first responder is not a full-fledged paramedic. Just like a nurse practitioner is not a surgeon. They each have their own scope of practice, and they have their own necessary education to fulfill that scope of practice.” 

Dyck notes discussion continued with a suggestion that there may be an option of something lesser than a full-fledged paramedic.  

"If you do not take the training (to be a paramedic) they want to knock us all back to basic first aid, which means if I'm having a heart attack and I need Nitro, let's say. I've been prescribed Nitro. The basic first aid person cannot give it to me unless I direct them to. So, if I am out of sorts or incoherent or I need a puffer because I'm having an asthma attack if they give me the puffer, they'll be fined. They can't do it under basic first aid. You just have to, you can hold their hand, but you can't even give the person their own medicine."  

Dyck asks the question, "The College of Paramedics may have higher standards than other provinces but does that mean that our residents are better off?"  

"You have people that are waiting 1/2 hour, an hour, an hour and a half for ambulances, depending on where they live and it's left to us as municipal leaders to be the ones that say, "we care", because if it was left up to the province and to the College of Paramedics, it's like, "sucks to be you", you to have to wait for an ambulance, but we have this standard of care or this standard of training, you know, but a first responder will be there in 5 minutes.” In frustration, Dyck comments, "I'm surprised that they want that blood on their hands. That really shocks me. Like, you know, that's good enough?"

Dyck and the 13 municipalities did have three recommendations for the College of Paramedics. 

1) Stay with the dispatch through the Medical Transportation Coordination Centre (MTCC) as opposed to 911 dispatch. The municipalities feels that MTCC is quicker and gets First Responders notified sooner and to the site sooner. 

2) Provide online training. Virtual classes would make it easier for individuals living further away from Winnipeg to take the training. 

3) Set up a module approach to the classification of First Responders.  

Dyck explains the module approach.

"This would allow individuals to specialize in a certain area,  for example, administering medications. They would have that recorded at the College of Paramedics, that a certain Niverville Fire Department First Responder was qualified to administer medications, and when they were on-scene, that person would assist the Emergency Response Team."  

There would be different modules or courses that one could take. The person would be able to specialize in a skill that was needed.  

Dyck says throughout the day-long meetings there were opportunities to ask questions which, he says, weren't always as productive as he had hoped.

Going forward, Dyck says as a town council they will continue to advocate for Niverville residents to provide the service that is needed. 

As for the College of Paramedics' next move? He notes, as of right now there are no follow-up meetings scheduled.

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