What is a Paramedic
A paramedic is a specialized healthcare professional who is primarily trained to respond to emergency calls for medical help outside of a hospital. Paramedics mainly work as part of the Emergency Response Service (ERS), most often in ambulances. They may also provide medical care outside the parameters of an emergency call, for example they may provide care to a patient transferring from one health facility to another. Paramedics also work in community settings and in addition can provide care through private companies on construction sites or at sporting events, for example. Paramedics also function as educators and in administrative or management roles.
In Manitoba, there are 5 different practice levels: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Primary Care Paramedic (PCP), Intermediate Care Paramedic (PCP-IC), Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP), and Critical Care Paramedic (CCP). The scope of practice of each practice level is defined under the College of Paramedics of Manitoba General Regulations and the Reserved Acts. Each practitioner is responsible for ensuring they understand their scope of practice, they are competent in the skills/procedures within that scope, and they comply with the scope of work as determined by their employer. Each practice level must be registered with the College of Paramedics of Manitoba and receive a certificate of Practice (formerly known as a license) to practice in Manitoba.
Emergency Medical Responder
This is the foundational level for anyone providing patient care. EMR’s perform patient assessments, vital signs, trauma injury management, and basic care for medical issues. In Manitoba, EMR’s also have the responsibility of assisting patients with some symptom relief medications they may have been prescribed, as well as administering medications the assessment indicates would benefit the patient in an acute/urgent situation (e.g. Naloxone for opioid overdose). Education Programs for EMR are generally 3-4 months in length with no clinical (applying skills in a precepted clinical environment) or practicum (applying skills in a precepted environment on an ambulance) requirements. Practitioners may work with a Medical First Response service, an Industrial setting, dispatch, or on an ambulance providing primary response.
Primary Care Paramedic
This is the entry to work level on an Emergency Response Unit (ambulance) in Manitoba. In addition to the basic assessment and patient management skills of an EMR, PCP’s also provide symptom relief with a variety of medications and procedures, initiate Intravenous cannulation, and manage airways at the intermediate level.
Education Programs for PCP are generally 8-11 months in length with significant clinical and practicum requirements. Practitioners may work with an Emergency Response Service (Ambulance), dispatch, assisting medical or nursing practitioners in a clinical setting, Industrial settings, and aeromedical transport services.
Intermediate Care Paramedic
In addition to PCP skills, PCP-IC’s have enhanced medication administration responsibilities, and with additional training can perform more advanced procedures (cardiac arrest resuscitation, advanced cardiac procedures) in the emergency response environment. PCP-IC’s have received training in addition to successfully completing a PCP Program. Practitioners may work with an Emergency Response Service (Ambulance), dispatch, assisting medical or nursing practitioners in a clinical setting, Industrial settings, and aeromedical transport services.
Advanced Care Paramedic
In addition to PCP skills, ACP’s have extensive additional education and have advanced medication and procedural responsibilities. ACP programs are 2-3 years in length blending didactic and extensive practical application of knowledge, and practitioners must have a minimum two years’ experience as a PCP to enroll. Practitioners may work with an Emergency Response Service (Ambulance), dispatch, Community and Outreach settings, assisting medical or nursing practitioners in a clinical setting, Industrial settings, and aeromedical transport services.
Critical Care Paramedic
In addition to ACP skills, CCP’s have extensive additional education which allows them to perform very advanced skills. This is the highest level of responsibility for patient care currently working in Manitoba. At this time in Manitoba, practitioners work in aeromedical transport (STARS) services, but wider clinical and field application is being contemplated.