B.C. ad campaign highlights role of paramedics

A child suffers a sudden seizure in her home and two scenarios play out on a split screen: The mother calls 911, paramedics rush to the home and provide life-saving treatment to the little girl. In the other scenario, the woman calls a cab and sits in traffic as her daughter lies lifeless in her arms.

The gut-wrenching ad is part of a new multimedia campaign called Imagine A World Without Paramedics, launched Monday by the Paramedics of B.C., the union representing the province’s 4,000 paramedics and emergency dispatchers.

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“We knew that [this campaign] would provoke different emotions and it did even amongst us,” said Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. and a paramedic for 20 years. “It’s tough but that’s what we see day in and day out.”

Barter said the idea for the ad campaign came from members who attended the paramedics’ annual convention in October.

Often when the media show up to the scene of an accident, police and firefighters are still there and able to provide details of their response, Barter said, but “the paramedics are already gone. We’re treating the patient. We’re using our specialized skills to save a life.”

Other ads show the two scenarios for an elderly man who has a heart attack in his home and a man who falls off a roof. Print ads show an image of someone being treated by paramedics next to one of them in a morgue or coffin.

The message is clear: Paramedics save lives every day.

“We go to our job and we don’t tell anyone or talk about it, but I think it’s time for us to tell people, ‘This is what we do, this is what we see,’ ” Barter said.

Many paramedics within the union, which signed a five-year contract with the provincial government last year, have applauded the ads. “They believe that this is long overdue,” Barter said.

Linda Lupini, executive vice president of the Provincial Health Services Authority and B.C. Emergency Health Services, said the organization recognizes that staff deal with life and death situations every day.

“Nearly every minute of every hour, an ambulance crew is dispatched to a medical call in B.C.,” Lupini said in a statement.

“Paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers dedicate themselves to saving lives and promoting public safety. Patient safety is paramount to all our staff and we continue to do everything we can to provide the best possible patient-care for British Columbians.”

The media campaign will run in TV, print and radio over the next eight weeks across B.C.


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