Paramedical occupations (NOC 3234)

About this job

This unit group includes workers who administer pre-hospital emergency medical care to patients with injuries or medical illnesses and transport them to hospitals or other medical facilities for further medical care. Paramedics who are supervisors are included in this unit group.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • are part of B.C.'s system of emergency medical assistants (EMAs) who give pre-hospital emergency medical care to patients with injuries or medical illnesses
  • transport patients to hospitals or other medical facilities for further medical care
  • are in one of several levels of EMAs, from emergency medical responder (EMR) to critical care paramedic (CCP)
  • are primarily employed by the BC Ambulance Service, however, some work in industrial, hospital and other settings
  • are also employed by private ambulance services, hospitals, fire departments, government departments and agencies, manufacturing firms, industrial sites and other private sector establishments (i.e., first aid attendants and first responders)
  • should have excellent communication skills and have a strong desire to help people
  • must also be able to make decisions calmly and efficiently in moments of crisis and
  • must be able to work well independently and as part of a team
Common job titles
  • advanced care paramedic (EMT - P / ACP)
  • assistant, advanced emergency medical
  • co-ordinator, advanced life support
  • paramedic, advanced care
  • paramedic, advanced life support
  • paramedic, intermediate care
  • advanced care paramedic (EMT - P / ACP)
  • assistant, advanced emergency medical
  • co-ordinator, advanced life support
  • driver / attendant, ambulance
  • EMT (emergency medical technician)
  • EMT-P (emergency medical technologist)

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$56,311

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Workers in this group:

  • Assess extent of injuries or medical illnesses of trauma victims, patients with respiratory disease and stress, overdose and poisoning victims, industrial accident victims and other ill or injured individuals to determine emergency medical treatment
  • Administer pre-hospital emergency care to patients such as oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), spinal immobilization, bandaging and splinting
  • Establish and maintain intravenous treatment (IV), apply adjunctive equipment for ventilation and circulation complications, administer medications and provide other advanced emergency treatment to patients • Transport patients by air, land or water to hospital or other medical facility for further medical care
  • Collaborate with ambulance dispatch centres, hospital staff, police, firefighters and family members to ensure relevant information is collected and proper treatment is administered
  • Document and record nature of injuries and illnesses and treatment provided
  • Assist hospital personnel with provision of medical treatment, if necessary
  • Maintain ambulances and emergency care equipment and supplies
  • May train and supervise other workers in this unit group
  • May assist with triage of emergency patients.

Special duties

Emergency medical assistants usually have a higher or more specialized level of training than first aid attendants. 

 

Work environment

Most emergency medical assistants in B.C. work for the BC Ambulance Service. Full-time paramedics work assigned shifts. Part-time paramedics work on call, depending on need, scheduling and availability. The BC Ambulance Service hires EMRs only on a part-time, on-call basis. Since services are provided 24 hours per day, weekend, evening and holiday work is required. Workers may also have to work some overtime.

Some emergency medical assistants work in hospitals and in industrial settings such as oilfields. These workers work assigned shifts and may have to work weekends and holidays.

Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors in a physically demanding job. Workers spend a great deal of time standing, kneeling, bending and lifting patients in stretchers.

For many first aid attendants, providing first aid is not their primary responsibility, but is combined with the other duties and responsibilities of their jobs. Therefore, this occupation is not always a full-time job. Those first aid attendants who work full-time in high-risk workplaces and those who drive industrial ambulances may also have to work weekends and holidays. Some full-time first aid attendants may work seasonally in industries that operate outdoors.

Workers in this occupational group may be exposed to contagious or potentially dangerous diseases, so precautionary measures are taken to reduce these risks.

While work can be physically demanding, as well as emotionally stressful, many find these occupations to be both challenging and rewarding.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

Employment requirements for workers in this occupational group vary based on the occupation and the employer.

There are four different levels within the EMA occupation nationally, relating to the level of training a worker has completed:

  • emergency medical responder
  • primary care paramedic
  • advanced care paramedic
  • critical care paramedic

In B.C., there are five practitioner levels within the EMA occupation:

  • emergency medical responder
  • primary care paramedic
  • advanced care paramedic
  • critical care paramedic
  • infant transport team.

Critical care paramedics and infant transport team paramedics are specialized teams within the BC Ambulance Service.

Emergency medical responder (EMR) requires a 105-hour entry-level training program in emergency patient care and transportation. Primary care paramedic (PCP) requires a six-month (including practicum) certificate program. Advanced care paramedics (ACP) must complete an 18-month diploma program. Critical care paramedic (CCP) and infant transport team (ITT) are the highest levels of paramedic certification within B.C. The CCP program training in B.C. is currently only accessible to advanced care paramedics. The requirement for infant transport team training is PCP certification plus clinical experience.

All levels of EMAs are governed by the Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board. In order to be licensed in the province, graduates with certificates from a recognized training agency must complete the appropriate licensing requirements, which include a practical evaluation and, where applicable, a written exam.

Paramedics (PCPs and ACPs) and emergency medical responders (EMRs):

  • work for the BC Ambulance Service, which is the sole provider of pre-hospital emergency health care for the province
  • must have Grade 12 or equivalent, EMR licence or comparable qualification and CPR Level "C" certificate
  • who hold a minimum Primary Care Paramedic licence or equivalent are preferred applicants

Applicants for EMA positions of all levels:

  • must have a Class 1, 2 or 4 B.C. driver's licence and a Class 4 unrestricted licence is preferred
  • should also have a driving record that demonstrates safe and competent driving behaviour
  • must pass a physical abilities test and a comprehensive criminal records review

First aid attendants working in industrial or other settings:

  • must hold a valid certificate of Occupational First Aid (Level 1, 2 or 3) issued by WorkSafeBC (formerly the Workers' Compensation Board of BC) or the equivalent

Occupational first aid courses that are recognized by WorkSafeBC range in length from one day to 70 hours. They include a Transportation Endorsement for Level 1 and 2 Occupational First Aid attendants. Graduates must pass written, oral and practical examinations. WorkSafeBC recognizes an EMR licence as meeting Occupational First Aid Level 3 requirements in the workplace.

For information on EMR and paramedic training, please see the Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board website at www.health.gov.bc.ca/ema.

For information on first aid attendant training, see the WorkSafeBC website at www2.worksafebc.com/Topics/FirstAid/Home.asp.

As of July 1, 2017 when the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force, you will not need significant additional training, experience, testing or assessment if your qualifications or certificates are recognized by a Canadian regulatory authority. This applies whether you were trained in Canada or internationally. Learn about labour mobility at www.workersmobility.ca. For information about labour mobility and foreign qualifications recognition, contact the B.C. regulator for your occupation.

Skills

  • Detail-Oriented
  • Clerical Ability
  • Motor Coordination
  • Directive
  • Verbal & Written Comprehension
  • Spatial Perception
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Health/Medical - General

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
90
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
240
Average annual employment growth:
1.5%
Expected number of job openings:
100
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
1,310
Average annual employment growth:
2.1%
Expected number of job openings:
660
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
100
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
140
Average annual employment growth:
2.9%
Expected number of job openings:
90
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
380
Average annual employment growth:
1.8%
Expected number of job openings:
170
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
570
Average annual employment growth:
2.3%
Expected number of job openings:
290

N/A - Data not available

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

Most of the opportunities will come from the need to replace retiring workers.

The creation of new jobs for paramedics reflects the fact that B.C.'s population is both growing and aging, which is leading to greater demand for emergency medical services. Paramedics are now being used increasingly outside the traditional pre-hospital setting. Some provide care in hospitals and in industry settings.

There may be increased demand for advanced care level paramedics in hospital emergency room settings and for rural health-care teams because of their greater scope of practice.

The majority of first aid attendants provide first aid services as one aspect of their job. Industry sources indicate there are many qualified first aid attendants in the labour market and that getting a full-time position as a first aid attendant is difficult. Those interested in working as first aid attendants must have other skills they can apply in an office or on a job site in addition to first aid skills.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

New graduates typically get positions as primary care paramedics in both industry and with the BC Ambulance Service. However, new roles are emerging for primary care paramedic graduates in B.C. as emergency room attendants in hospitals.

In Canada, the highest level of certification paramedics can pursue through advanced training is the critical care paramedic (CCP). Some paramedics may also choose careers in other emergency services or health-care fields by completing additional training.

With further training and considerable work experience, workers in this occupational group may be able to work as supervisors, operations managers or senior administrators. Other related careers include dispatcher, instructor and salesperson of emergency medical equipment.

First aid attendants with Occupational First Aid Level 3 qualification may take an Occupational First Aid to Emergency Medical Responder (OFA-EMR) bridging course to qualify to apply for EMR licensing in B.C. First aid attendants may also choose a career in occupational health and safety.

Additional resources