Paramedics feeling pinched

Vancouver paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt was caring for a patient in cardiacarrest on his last night shift when his heart monitor failed for thefifth time in three weeks.

Vancouver paramedic Darrel Hunsbedt was caring for a patient in cardiac arrest on his last night shift when his heart monitor failed for the fifth time in three weeks.

Hunsbedt said the glitch was just one of many he has to deal with on a regular basis.

“It’s very stressful when patients are sick and you don’t (have the resources to care for them),” he said. “A procedure that should take five minutes could take 15 — and that could mean (they die).”

Having to work with the faulty and outdated equipment, as well as too few ambulances and workers, prompted British Columbia’s roughly 3,500 paramedics to go on strike on April 1.

Hunsbedt said the province has shown no interest in bargaining, which compounds the stress he already deals with every day.

“It’s destroying morale,” he said. “We’re at the breaking point (and) the government doesn’t care.”

That low morale has got paramedic Nick Smith thinking about changing careers.

“It’s downright depressing at times,” said Smith, 27. “It’s difficult on my home life because it creates added stress.”

Smith said the long shifts and night work — which alienates paramedics from friends and family — used to be worth it. But he said with the government refusing to bargain, he now feels there’s no future for the profession.

“I see everyone else jumping ship,” Smith said. “And I’m wondering if I’m doing the right thing (by staying).”

 
 
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