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Paramedics’ perspectives of the community paramedic role in Ontario, Canada

02 November 2022
Volume 14 · Issue 11

Abstract

Background: Community paramedicine (CP) expands the paramedic role to emergency call prevention, yet little research has examined paramedics’ perspectives of CP. Aims: This study sought to explore paramedics’ views regarding the CP role and training. Methods: A cross-sectional, web-based survey of Ontario paramedics measured perceptions, support and interest in CP. Descriptive and regression analyses were conducted. Findings: Of the 452 participants, 57.5% were male, 43.6% primary care paramedics and 33.0% had a history of being on modified duty. Paramedics perceived CP to include treat-and-release (85.4%), community resource referrals (79.0%), expanded skills (77.9%), community education (75.9%) and follow-up (73.7%). Most were supportive (82.8%) and interested in participating (72.3%). Interest in training was lower in respondents with 20 or more years of service and higher in those with a history of modified duty (p<0.05). Conclusion: Paramedics are aware the CP role has multiple functions and are supportive and interested in CP. This study has implications for services as CP expands globally.

The paramedic role has expanded beyond the core function of responding to 911 emergency medical services (EMS) calls to include preventing these calls (Chan et al, 2019).

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) (2014) has described community paramedicine (CP) as paramedics applying ‘their training and skills beyond the traditional role of providing emergency response. Working in collaboration with other health professionals, community paramedics provide services that help patients, like seniors with complex conditions, to live independently in their homes and communities.’

CP programmes tend to focus on vulnerable populations who are most at risk of frequent EMS and emergency department use (e.g. low-income seniors and people living in remote areas with limited access to care) (Stirling et al, 2007; MOHLTC, 2014; Rasku et al, 2019; Thurman et al, 2021).

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