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VERNON Ambulance service in the North Okanagan is in such decay that residents and visitors cannot be assured of their safety, say striking B.C. ambulance paramedics who have launched a TV ad campaign to expose government neglect.
The B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS) relies heavily on on-call paramedics to maintain service levels in most communities, said Bob Cail, CUPE 873 spokesperson. Our members, who volunteer to provide community coverage, are being stretched to the limit.
Local communities are without ambulance service at times due to the inability to find volunteers to provide on-call services, said Cail. The BCAS has eliminated full-time staff in some communities and the effects are being felt when trying to staff ambulances.
When a community is without ambulance service, we have to respond with the next closest ambulance and this can mean lengthy delays for someone who is sick or injured, said Cail. This was evident on February 24, when a Lumby resident waited for 43 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

The paramedics now are on strike as part of their campaign to expose the crumbling system. They are calling for increased staffing levels, a stable 35-hour workweek with fair wage adjustments, and changes to the governments re-licensing system.
In a way, this TV ad campaign is our 911 call to the public, he said. And that isnt meant to make light of 911. Our ambulance system is in such bad shape that if the government doesnt act to fix it, we will be looking at serious emergencies being missed.
CUPE Local 873 represents about 3,500 ambulance workers. Local job actions will continue throughout the strike.
Contact: Bob Cail, regional spokesperson for CUPE Local 873, 1-250-260-6860 (pager)