Historically, up to the late 1990’s, a privately owned companies registered as Ambulance Operators, using different medical and operational tools and protocols serviced Nova Scotia.
Employees who would assume the role of first responder for these companies were primarily labeled ‘Ambulance Attendants’. The training program at that time consisted of a few weeks of classroom and did not include ‘advanced’ skills; but, in many cases, there was no prerequisite for training to become an Ambulance Attendant.
There were however, as an example, a few ambulance operations such as the one at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax that provided a greater level of care than the standard. There were also a few Ambulance Operator employees (Attendants) who took it upon themselves to attend programs such as the one offered at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in order that they might practice a greater skill-‐set than was the normal for Nova Scotia at that time. Hence, under this early service design, there were varying levels of applicable practical and technical skill, which could be offered to the general public.
In the late 1990’s, EMC Medical Care Inc. began acquisition of the pre-‐existing regional and township private operations and through the process of creating a single provincial operation, advocating advanced skills training and including provincial medical oversight, the provincial service was on its way to becoming what is arguably one of the best provincial systems employing some of the highest trained Paramedics in the world.
It is noteworthy that some of those early attendants who were a critical part of the early system that were involved in the emergence to the current system remain in the system today; in field, representative, leadership, managerial, and oversight positions. Those most senior persons represent as many as 1350 collective years of operations experience and knowledge of the system.
With the intent to form a provincial Ambulance service came the need for one Bargaining Agent (union) that would negotiate and guard language, rights and permissions for all of the Nova Scotia paramedics who were employed in this new system under the one operator.
The provinces Labour Board mandated that there be a ‘run-‐off vote’ between the several unions that were the bargaining agents for a few of the private operators. The Successor to that vote was the N.S.G.E.U that from inception of the provincial service to 2002 was the bargaining agent.
In 2002 the provinces paramedic membership felt the need to seek different representation and after the formal processes associated with that task were completed, the new bargaining agent was the International Union of Operating Engineers, (IUOE) Local 968.
Why are we called ‘Operating Engineers’ when we are paramedics, not construction workers?
The local Union is an autonomous Local under the umbrella of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) International Office in Washington DC. Originally, the provincial Paramedics journey within the Operating Engineers Union started with the IUOE Local 968 at an office in Kentville NS. In Local 968 Paramedics were under their own Collective Agreement; but were in a Local Union with University Employees, Trades Workers, Steam Engineers and other non-‐ Paramedic employees (no disrespect to the other professions). After a majority of the provincial Paramedics in Local 968 petitioned the International Union for an autonomous Local that could be theirs alone with no other professionals in it … the IUOE Local 727 was formed in 2007. A few RN’s who work part-‐time Life Flight are also in Local 727. Local 727 is dedicated to only Paramedics and those who perform emergency services for EMC Medical Care Inc.