Award winning paramedics talk about life experience

Jodi Schellenberg
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It’s not only Prince Albert citizens who notice Parkland Ambulance paramedics’ dedication to their jobs.

Brian Reichle and George Bolduc are two of the Parkland Ambulance paramedics that will be headed down to Regina on Wednesday to receive provincial paramedic awards.

Next week, three local paramedics will be honoured during the Emergency Medical Services Provincial awards in Regina on Wednesday.

George Bolduc, who will be retiring this year, has been with the ambulance service for 38 years and will be receiving the Stars of Life award.

Although he has been with Parkland Ambulance for many years, when he joined he didn’t realize it would be such a great career.

“I came here to apply for a job as an ambulance driver and I was working construction so I just thought I’d give it a try,” Bolduc laughed. “I pulled in on my motorcycle and came and asked them if they wanted me to work. They said to get a haircut and come back and we’ll see. The next day I came back, had a haircut and was good to go.”

He said there are a lot of things about the job to love. He really enjoys being involved in the community and taking care of people.

“As a paramedic, you are involved with your patients, you are involved with your community, but the biggest thing is you have to be able to care about people,” Bolduc said. “I have always treated people like they are my own family and all our people are like that here, so that is one thing that is very important.

“You have that caring nature and you can’t just get into this business to drive ambulances fast, and have the lights and sirens and excitement -- it is not about that at all,” he added. “It is about taking care of people and doing the best job you can and that is what I like best about this job for sure.”

Another aspect of the job he loves is that no two days are ever the same.

“There are so many different aspects of this job that you do different things every day,” Bolduc said. “I am mostly in the office now but when you are working the street, it is a different day every day so you could be doing anything from delivering a baby to going to a car accident to going to violent calls -- it could be whatever.”

According to the Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services Association (SEMSA), the Stars of Life is awarded in “recognition for outstanding achievements, dedication or leadership in EMS.”

It can also be awarded for acts of bravery, heroism or going above and beyond the call of duty.

Bolduc believes he is receiving the award due to his longevity in the field.

“Not too many people work this long in this industry, but you will se more and more of them because we have the same kind of career path as any other job,” he said.

Instead of being a temporary job, paramedics have a good pension plan, benefit package and wages, he said.

“That’s why it is a really good job to have because you are not always working, you are not always doing calls -- you do have some down time, but when you are doing calls, you’re busy,” Bolduc said. “I guess why I got the award was because of my longevity and I consider that I’ve done a good job in my career taking care of patients.”

Brian Reichle, who has been with Parkland Ambulance since the 1980s, will be receiving the First Bar -- Governor General EMS Exemplary Medal.

SEMSA explained the award is “in recognition of 30 years of loyal and exemplary service in responding to prehospital emergencies in Canada.”

Much like Bolduc, Reichle didn’t intent to be a paramedic straight out of high school. When he graduated, Reichle wasn’t sure what career path he would follow.

“You wanted to find your thing in life and emergency services was always an attractive way to go and gets everyone’s attention,” he said. “I guess in high school, I wasn’t the most scholastic person so I always thought that was out of my reach.”

Reichle’s brother was working at Parkland and invited him to go on a couple ride-alongs in the fall of 1983.

“I realized this was something that I was really interested in, something I could attain, so I started taking my classes and doing courses and started working February of 1984,” he said.

He also enjoys that not every day is the same and he has new experiences when he leaves the office.

“You see a lot of things and meet a lot of people, sometimes at their worst, sometimes not necessarily at their best but you definitely meet a lot of people,” Reichle said. “There are a lot of challenges -- there are challenges with calls you do on the street, there’s challenges obviously in administration, but there is always something different in there and you don’t come to work every day thinking ‘Oh great, I have to go and do this again for the fourth day in a row.’ So it is different.”

One of the most important things about being a paramedic is to be outgoing, Reichle said.

“You have to come with an open mind and you have to become willing and able to meet your clients needs because they are the people who need you, they are the people who call,” he said. “If you are not a people person, if you aren’t outgoing, you won’t survive in this job.”

Since there are so many different aspects of the job, Reichle said he doesn’t have one favourite aspect or story from all his years on the job.

“You see lots of different things and deal with a lot of different situations,” he said. “The most interesting thing, I think, is meeting your patients at their worst and having them come back and visit you and say thank you, introduce themselves, meet their family. I think those are definitely the most interesting and the most glorious moments of the job.”

He is proud to have been a paramedic for 30 years.

“It is something that is obtainable for people nowadays because our jobs are now careers -- they used to be jobs for people in the short term and then they were gone,” Reichle said. “There is a lot more education, a lot more schooling, a lot more training

“There are not a lot of people in the province at that 30-year mark and I’m sure there are going to be in the next 10 years,” he added. “I think 30 years is quite an accomplishment for emergency medical services.”

Both men are excited to go to the Government House in Regina and be presented the awards by the lieutenant-governor.

“It is always nice to be with your peers and meeting other people in the province who are up for this same award,” Reichle said.

“I really appreciate the recognition from my peers and from our association,” Bolduc said. “It is nice capping off your career with getting awards. I’m not too big into awards, but I guess I will be very proud to hang this on my mantle at home for sure.”

A third Parkland Ambulance member, Valerie Scarrett, will be receiving the Stars of Life award, but was unavailable for an interview on Friday.

Organizations: Emergency Medical Services Provincial, Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services Association, Government House

Geographic location: Regina, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Laurel
    May 26, 2014 - 22:57

    A huge appreciation goes out to these two men for there many years of dedicated service. As a former nurse in one of the outlying areas I can testify to the wonderful work and service they offered when ever they were called upon. George Bolduc - you will be missed and difficult to replace. Enjoy the beginning of a new phase in your life.