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  In the Yukon Territory, our Government is the agency responsible for Emergency Medical Services. It houses a responding Ambulance station in 16 of its Communities, which then provide area coverage for the entirety of the Yukon and its citizens.

  13 of those Communities are "staffed" fully by Volunteers and two more have Volunteers providing the extra coverage during evenings and weekends.

  On August 1, 2008, the Volunteer Ambulance Services Society (VASS) was created to  be the representing body for the Volunteer side of Yukon Emergency Medical Services.

  The representation is twofold. (1) As a point of contact for negotiations between the Yukon Government and the Volunteers and (2) As a figurehead for accepting the Transfer payment awarded through said negotiations by YTG to the Volunteers of Yukon EMS for the purpose of Continuing Medical Education outside of what Yukon EMS provides, Volunteer Recognition and Crew and Station Funded Initiatives.

 

  Welcome to our Website:

Why Rural EMS is Different

 

  In today's day and age we all have a reasonable expectation that if we call 911 we will get Ambulance response with trained Paramedics that have dedicated their lives to help save ours.

  This is the first difference. As of August 1, 2016 the Yukon Government implemented basic Territory wide 911 service. We are also still running the Community specific '4444' numbers.  The 911 call gets routed to a dispatcher in Whitehorse that asks "Fire, RCMP or EMS" and "What Community please?", then it gets rerouted back to the Community Health Center for the NIC to dispatch the local EMS crew. Many Yukoners do not know their civic address, we will quite often get descriptions like "Joe Smith's house", "third blue house on the left after the highway turnoff" or "the driveway with the old car parked beside it". Sounds crazy, but it does happen. Of the 16 Yukon Communities with EMS service, 13 do not have hospital service within their area. Contact information for each of their area Health Centers can be found at this link:  

https://yukon.ca/en/health-and-wellness/find-hospital-or-health-centre

   The second difference is the responders. Aside from Watson Lake and Dawson City who have full time Paramedics, Monday through Friday working the day shift, the rest of the time and in the rest of the Communities there is no one actively waiting at the station for a call to come in. For every Community with a Volunteer Service, we have two medics on rotation 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, who carry a radio and are often brought in from home or work to respond to a call.

   The third difference is training. Although the term "paramedic" is the generic term used Nationally for all out of hospital care providers, the crew responding to your call could have varied levels of training. Currently in the Communities we utilize three levels, SFA (Standard First Aid - Course time 20 hours), EMR (Emergency Medical Responder - Course time 80 hours) {  This is the average level of training. At this level we have the ability to provide first aid for major trauma and medical emergencies. We do not have the training to administer IVs or provide advanced medications. For pain relief we can only offer oxygen or entonox, otherwise known as "laughing gas"     }, PCP (Primary Care Paramedic - Course time 6 months to 2 years). Each level of training is done to a National Standard set by these guidelines:

http://www.paramedic.ca/site/nocp?nav=02

  The final difference is wages. On a call I had a distraught family member accuse me of only doing this for the money. We are not Employees of YG. We do not get holiday pay, sick leave, benefits or are recognized by YG or the Union as Employees. This Society was formed in part as a figure head for negotiations that the volunteers entered into with YG in 2008. From those negotiations, we cemented a basic volunteer package that includes this: Free training and education for WHIMS, TDG, SFA, EMR, CEVO (defensive driving) and Class 4 licensing and provisions of a standard Uniform package.  As of January 1st, 2018 our honorarium has been increased to the following: $3.71/hour to carry a radio while on standby. A set "wage" based on level of training while on a call. $15.90/meeting (2 meetings/month for 2 hours each) and $19.08/hr non-emergency pay for attending specialized training provided by YEMS.  I can admit that even after 15 years of service, if I were working at this full time, I would still be living below the poverty level of the National standard for average household income. So no, we don't do this for the money. The majority of us already work full time jobs and have full time families. We don't do it to be considered "Heroes in our Community". We do this because we care about our families, friends, neighbors and Communities. We do it because we want to help to provide the best possible Emergency Medical Care we can, because we believe everyone should have a standard equal to the rest of Canada. We also do it because we don't want your day to suck any worse than it already does if you find that you are needing our services to begin with.

  In our Community our mantra is "Hope not to see ya". So I will leave you with this, I hope not to see you professionally. Please also know that we are always looking for more volunteers and if you are interested, contact me via this website with your information as well as your Community and I will pass it on to the Supervisor. Thank you.

Doug MacKay, Chair

VASS Education Committee.

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