Island Hopping?

So I got a call today, from BCAS Victoria Island Human Resources.  A friendly voice greeted me over the phone and said they have received my application which was forwarded to them by the Lower Mainland HR and that she had a couple of questions for me.  She asked me when my exams (for licensing) are, when I’d get my EMR license and when I’d get my class 4 drivers license, I told her if everything goes smoothly I should have it all by the end of August.  Then she asked me which locations I’d prefer to work in:  Pender Island, Mayne Island, or Galiano Island.  I asked if I had any other choices and she said no, those were the only ones I got to choose from.  Of the three I told her I’d prefer Pender Island because it had the highest call volume compared to the other two.  Commuting on the ferries though, would be another issue.

Now that got me thinking if that’s a good place to start.  I was hoping for a station that had higher call volumes.  According to the statistics my friend gave me which was back in 2005/2006.  Pender had a 245 responses per year, while Mayne came to 163 and Gailano with 178.  At the moment it looks like I won’t have any luck getting into a rural station with >500 calls/yr.  However I did consider Bowen Island an option which had 262 calls/yr, not far off from Pender.  Difference is that the commute time is shorter with less transfers.  The interior of course offered more options, but driving through the thick snow in winter would be a problem for me.

I know I’m thinking too far ahead, it’s not like that was a job offer or an interview.  I have to focus on my exams first.  But that phone call just got me thinking:  What’s the best station to start off in?  Should I just get my foot through the door?  Should I base it on call volume?  Should I sit around and wait for a better offer?  Will a better offer come up, or should my priority be gaining seniority and waiting out my probationary period?

The answer?  At the moment…No Idea.

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7 Responses to “Island Hopping?”
  1. Mvrk says:

    If I were you I’d get the 6 months probation out of the way then transfer the hell out wherever you were stationed. The difference of 150 calls a year to 250 calls a year is negligible really…you won’t get much “experience” either way. That comes with working at a station with 2000+ calls a year, transporting to actual hospitals (most small islands don’t have hospitals, so island ambulances transfer pts to mainland ambulances, meaning you wont see the inside of an ER for awhile, follow up with ER physicians, assist in the ER, etc.), and working with experienced people. On a side note, badger your unit chief to forward your availability on to urban stations for secondary shift coverage…that way you can make a bit of money and actually do calls!

    • Coxinha says:

      Hi Mvrk,

      That’s some good logic there and yeah I was actually thinking the same thing. The important thing is getting my # in.

  2. Aaron Quiambao says:

    Hi again,

    This is actually my dilemma right now.

    So far I am unemployed. I got a few interviews but when I told them that I would be going back to school on April for the PCP program – I was dropped from their selection pool. So I am putting all my eggs in to the BCAS basket.

    RIght now,
    – Region 1 has contacted me and told me that Gold River (214 calls/yr), Sayward (123 calls/yr), and Port McNeill (891 calls/yr) are hiring. I calculated a one way trip to Gold River would cost me $120 (ferry + gas). A one way trip to Port McNeill would cost me even more and I would have to move there if I am hired to work there – as going back and forth from Richmond would not be ideal. If I do not get a lot of calls, I would be losing a lot of money.

    However,
    – my application is actually moving forward in Region 3. I got my interview in Region 3, they did my reference checks, and all the forms that I have to hand in (criminal record and medical) are to be mailed to the Interior HR.

    – Region 1 said that if I am interested in any of the three stations that they mentioned then I should ask Region 3 to forward my file to them.

    To make matters even more interesting,
    – my EMR teacher gave my contact to his former UC – Princeton Station UC. He emailed me back in October and asked to consider working at Princeton. They get about (1000 calls/yr). I’m going to call him again ones I finish my physical assessment.

    Here is my question:
    – Since I am so close to finishing up my application for the interior and a possible Princeton station – Should I still get Region 3 to forward my file to Region 1? Should I still consider a Region 1 station (they might get my employment # up faster)? or Do I wait for Region 3 to call (longer wait time but a higher call volume)?

    – What would you do in my situation since you mentioned that “I have decided that getting my employment number is my number one concern (aka building up my seniority). So if it means working at a small island to start off, well I’m not going to be complaining”?

    Thanks again

    Aaron Q.

    • PocketMedic says:

      Hi Aaron,

      You have a lot to consider. Yes keep in mind seniority is important, but so is making a bit of money. Are you willing to drive into the interior to work (there will be a gas cost)? Princeton can be a good place to start if you’re willing to put in enough shifts. Yet I hear you plan to go to school, will the commute be too far for the weekend? Would something in Region 1 be better? Have you considered the smaller islands such as galiano and pender? Would that work better for you in terms of cost and commute along with school? How many shifts would they use in each of those places? For example, if you submit the whole month to Galiano and they only use say 8 shifts, the rest you can place into Vancouver to work spareboards and get paid full time. Also to consider is how much spareboards will there be? Are you willing to wake up at all hours of the day to complete spareboards?

      I’ll be honest, there is no easy way to start a career in BCAS (although it is a very rewarding job and one I love), I do highly recommend getting a side job to support yourself until you get enough seniority. However, it might work out just working BCAS if you get into a busy station like Merritt or Princeton and submit full availability. But if you intend on doing BCAS as a side gig and collect your seniority while working another job, then a station with smaller call volume may work better for you.

      I wouldn’t close out my options and would have Region 3 forward your application to Region 1, so you can have more places to choose from. In the end, the decision is yours on where you want to start. It really just depends on how you wish to play it out once you get the station. Whether you plan to get a side job or live off straight as a Paramedic. Also remember you can apply for laterals to different stations once you are finished your probation (but once again, seniority determines if you get into a place or not as you are competing with other people). It takes about one year to get into Pemberton at the moment and about 1.5yrs to get into Squamish if you’re lucky.

      I am currently doing ferry commutes, and I spend 5 days a week where I work, I’ve rented a place here as it makes life easier for me and I can get some good sleep, but I commute home on the weekends to vancouver because my boyfriend is there. It gets exhausting at times, but it is also neat to be able to live and work in different places and get to know different people/locals. In the long run, the ferry costs can take a toll, and if I didn’t have a relationship, then I probably would have moved over to where I’m working now as it is easier. However, if it’s a ferry once a month, then that’s not so bad (if you’re putting in your minimum or they use only a small portion of your availability). I’m currently doing the transit every week. I have to say though, a ferry ride is more relaxing than a 2.5hr drive by car. I also don’t miss the dangerous highway I had to navigate to get to my last station.

      So in the end, there is not black and white answer, it’s dependent on your situation and what you plan to do in the future. The choice is up to you.

      Instead of helping you formulate a more concrete answer, I probably just raised more questions for you to think about. Once you answer those questions however, the answer should become more clear.

      Let me know what you decide!

      • Aaron Quiambao says:

        Hi,

        Thanks for the quick reply. You did raise some very good questions. It really does depend on my situation.
        Forgive me – but what are spareboards?

        I definitely do not want to cut my self short and rule out working in Van Island. I love ferry rides and being able to ride it to get to work is not necessarily a negative. However, it would cost me more money and time to work in Region 1 especially when I start to attend classes for the PCP program in New West. I am just worried that I would lose too much money since they offered me low call volume stations.

        However, I emailed and got a reply from the unit chief in Princeton earlier today. I updated him on my situation and he said that he is still looking for people as he had a few lateral transfer out of the station. This is good news for me I guess – if I can get my paper work done asap (I am hoping by next week) and he asks me to start there.

        I finished my EMR class back in July. Got my Class 4 August. Got licensed Sept. Now, I am hoping to be able to start working Feb. I’m excited to start working.

        Recently I have been busy studying Anatomy and Physiology so that I won’t be cramming during the online portion of the PCP program.

        Good luck with work and all

        Aaron Q.

      • PocketMedic says:

        Each month you put in availability to your home station (in your case say princeton). Say you put in full availability for the whole month and Princeton only uses 5 days out of the month. The rest of the month in which you have submitted availability (not the five days used at princeton) can be put into vancouver post (or wherever else you want it) for work. On those days, you may get a call and be asked by the scheduler to go in and fill in for a shift. That is called a spareboard.

        Smart, studying for A&P early. I’m sure you’ll do fine.

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