There is a significant shortage of local paramedics working in both the public and private sector in rural, northern, and remote areas of British Columbia. Iridia Medical is looking to address this ongoing challenge by supporting training and mentoring for a cohort of Grade 12 work experience students from North Peace Secondary School interested in a career as a paramedic or other health care profession. This initiative represents one of several ways Iridians continue to act upon our key value of social responsibility.
Iridia works in several remote areas with resource companies in northeast B.C. to provide an industry-leading level of medical care. We employ paramedics and Occupational First Aid Attendants (Level 3 or OFA3s for short), provide them with 24-hour access to on-call emergency physicians for further expertise, and deploy them to large remote work camps.
Iridia is also committed to hiring paramedics and OFA3s from the communities where we work. However, many of the surrounding small towns and villages near our remote operations suffer from a shortage of trained personnel. Paramedic and OFA3 expertise is not only needed by us, but also by B.C. Ambulance Stations and other industrial projects.
To address this gap, we are working with the District Principal of Careers at North Peace Secondary School (NPSS), Mr. Brian Campbell, to implement an innovative program to help guide Grade 12 students through the process of becoming fully licensed paramedics.
Dubbed the Paramedic Career Path (PCP), the initial phase of this innovative initiative is getting set to launch. A group of six to eight Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students will be selected and then trained to become job-ready OFAs. Once students are qualified as OFAs and complete a number of additional safety courses, they will be paired with, and directly supervised by, one of our Iridia paramedics in the field. They will not only have the chance to provide real-life patient care in a safe environment but also gain invaluable mentoring experience.
Shell, Progress Energy, and Viper Innovation have generously provided grant money for a number of safety training initiatives in School District #60, including the OFA training for the Paramedic Career Path initiative. A second phase of the program will then support OFA3’s to further their skills to become Emergency Medical Responders and eventually Primary Care Paramedics, in collaboration with B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS).
The program will start in Fort St. John with plans to expand to both Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek high schools. To kick off, Dr. Holmes, Iridia’s Founder, travelled to Fort St. John to provide two sessions for close to forty Grade 12 students from both Transition to Trades and academic track students. Accompanying him were Rick Loukes, BCAS Superintendent, and Makayla McLeod, Iridia’s Assistant Paramedic Coordinator. These introductory sessions included a question-and-answer session with hands-on stations set up for students to practice CPR on the Iridia SmartMan manikin, learn how to use an Automated External Defibrillator, and complete an ambulance walkthrough. The presentation was very well received with a number of students anxiously looking forward to being involved in the program. Stay tuned!