Advanced care paramedics now answering calls in 3 N.B. communities

Advanced care paramedics have begun answering calls in three New Brunswick communities as part of a pilot program.

Ambulance New Brunswick has hired six full-time and 10 casual advanced care paramedics in Saint John, Moncton and Bathurst.

The paramedics will provide extra support to primary care paramedics responding to calls for acutely ill people with complex health issues.

"We are proud that advanced care paramedics will strengthen our system by providing advanced emergency medical services to New Brunswickers in need," Health Minister Victor Boudreau said in a news release on Monday.

Edmundston was also supposed to be part of the pilot project, but health department spokesperson Sarah Williams said in an email that not enough qualified bilingual applications were received.

"Ambulance New Brunswick was aiming to recruit eight full-time and eight casual advanced care paramedics for these [four] pilot sites," said Williams. "Unfortunately, not enough qualified bilingual applications were received for the Edmundston site. To avoid any delays in the roll-out of the pilot project, a decision was made to only go forward with the three remaining sites."

Matt Crossman, president of Ambulance NB, says they're pleased to see the pilot program already yielding positive outcomes for patients.

"We are looking forward to making a real difference for patients by combining the skills of our advanced care paramedics with our primary care paramedics when the need arises," Crossman said in a news release.

The government says an evaluation of the pilot program's success will help guide a wider rollout in the province.