It’s been 38 years since George Bolduc started at Parkland Ambulance and he still loves the job.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Parkland Ambulance COO George Bolduc will be retiring at the end of June after 38 years with the company.
Bolduc started with Parkland Ambulance when he was 20 years old on June 15, 1976, when he applied for the job after seeing a posting in the newspaper.
“I didn’t think I’d be working 38 years in this but once I started working I really enjoyed it and stayed on and I still enjoy it,” Bolduc said.
Throughout the years, Bolduc has seen a lot of changes in the ambulance service.
“When I started, all we needed was a first aid certificate and that was about it,” Bolduc said. “Throughout the times, we learned how to do CPR -- about a year later I took a CPR course.”
Later, they had to take a course to become emergency medical technicians. Bolduc eventually worked his way up through the ranks, from manager to his current position as Chief Operating Officer.
Not only have their qualifications changed, the services they offer have changed as well.
“It has been a big change,” Bolduc said. “From when I started to now, it is just night and day.
“What our paramedics can do on the street now … the emergency room is brought right to their door when our ambulance pulls up,” Bolduc said. “Patients are revived weekly through the advancements in technology we have and through the skills of our staff.”
Bringing people back from the brink of death is a regular occurrence, whereas in the past they didn’t have the technology.
“Just the other day, a person was in cardiac arrest, which means there is no pulse and no breathing, and our paramedics brought them back to life,” Bolduc said. “It is just amazing stuff they can do now.”
Although Bolduc is now in senior management, he still loves working in the ambulance, going out on the street and meeting people.
“If I could do ambulance trips every day I would,” Bolduc said. “I just love doing ambulance trips and meeting people, caring for them and caring for their loved ones.
“It is just something in you that you like to do and helping people is where it’s at here,” he added. “We are not a bunch of heroes, we just like to help people and I think that is what makes our company so successful is we have so many people who care.”
All the paramedics care about people and their patients, Bolduc explained.
“I really like working with (patients) because you can make a difference and I think you have to be a caring person to work in this business definitely,” he said. “You just can’t work in this business for the money or for the prestige or the lights and sirens -- you have to actually like people and like working to help people.”
Since he has been on the job for 38 years, Bolduc has a lot of memories throughout his time with Parkland Ambulance.
“There are a lot of tragic things I have seen, definitely,” Bolduc said. “I’ve dealt with anything from a plan crash to house fires to car accidents.”
The hardest part of the job is dealing with a fatality, he said.
“You do your job, you deal with it but you feel for the loved ones who are going to have to move on afterwards,” Bolduc said.
“We have feelings too and when you deal with people like that -- we do our job but afterwards we think, ‘What if that was one of our loved ones?’ That is the caring part,” he added.
There may have been hard times, but there are many happy memories Bolduc has as well.
“I have delivered four babies in my lifetime -- one in a house in Prince Albert here and the rest in an ambulance,” he said. “That is the fun part -- maybe not for mom and dad it is not so much fun but it is so much joy and happiness when the baby is delivered and they are healthy and happy and everything is going good.”
He said many people have the misconception that paramedics deal with death and sickness all the time.
“We do do that but there are also (happy) things,” Bolduc said. “If we can make a difference in a person’s live, that’s what makes our jobs such a great job.”
Bolduc’s official last day will be June 27 and it will be a bittersweet farewell.
“I look forward to my retirement but I also feel a little sad that I am leaving somewhere that has been part of my life for most of my life because I have been here since I was 20 years old,” Bolduc said.
Before he leaves, Bolduc is mentoring Jordan Ambrose who will be taking his place in July.
“He is a very capable young man -- much younger than me but very capable,” Bolduc said. “I know all the staff are happy that we as a management team have chosen this fellow. He has about 10 years experience and I’m going to mentor him.”
Although he is leaving, Bolduc knows he will always be welcome back to visit in the future.
“It is such a family atmosphere here that I always feel welcome to come back,” he said. “We have a great group of people here that I can always kick back and joke around with.”
He said the people he has worked with have made the job very enjoyable.
“What makes this place so great is you can walk in here and you can hear people laughing and joking around,” Bolduc said. “That is the kind of workplace you want to work at.
“You don’t want to work somewhere were it is humdrum and if someone makes a crack about something everyone is like, ‘Oh my goodness,’” he added. “Everybody is pretty good humoured around here but on the other hand when there is work to be done, people do it.”
Bolduc also enjoyed the mix of people at Parkland Ambulance, from the rookies to the seasoned veterans.
“It is a hard place to leave because I am not going to be experiencing that anymore,” he said. “This is pretty tough but it is just my time.”
Bolduc will also be missed by the staff at Parkland Ambulance.
“While we are sad to see George leave, we wish him the very best for his coming retirement,” said Trevor Dutchak in a press release, CEO of Parkland Ambulance.
When he is officially retired, Bolduc said he will continue serving as chair of the Catholic School Board, as well as spend more time with family and do a little bit of travelling.
“My wife and I are going to travel a little bit, go somewhere warm for a little bit more time than a week out of the cold,” Bolduc said. “The biggest thing is I want to spend more time with my wife and my family. I’ve spent 38 years of my time with Parkland and now it is time to get back home and devote more time to my wife and my kids.”