Ambulances parked outside of a hospitalA proposal to transfer lift assistance work out of the hands of paramedics was discussed at Hastings County Council and needs to be opposed, said CUPE 1842.

“Paramedics are the ones who know how to determine if someone’s hurt and can properly attend to them if they are,” said Rob Cunningham, president of CUPE 1842, representing the paramedics of the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Service. “This proposal would dangerously outsource this important work to non-paramedic teams. That’s why we’re calling on Hastings County Council to scrap section 3 of the proposal and, instead, employ enough qualified paramedics to ensure that all calls are appropriately assessed and that, if needed, people needing help are transported safely.”

The proposal discussed by Hastings County Council included a measure regarding lift assist, which occurs when a patient calls paramedic services and requests assistance getting back up after a fall. It would involve Community Response Teams, instead of paramedics, responding to such calls. The union, however, notes that there are instances where falls might be signs of something more serious requiring the assistance of a paramedic.

“These Community Response Teams just wouldn’t be able to determine if we’re just talking about a simple fall or if some more serious health crisis was behind it,” said Cunningham. “That’s what paramedics do. That’s our skill set. We can assess the causes for a fall; we can attend to the patient if it’s more than just a fall; and only we can safely transport them to a hospital if necessary. Instead of outsourcing this critical work, we call on the County Council to invest and to hire more paramedics to do the job they are efficient in.”