Paramedics commended for hard work and dedication

Jodi Schellenberg
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Paramedics are visible in the community, whether it is helping at an accident scene or volunteering at an event.

On Monday, May 25 to 31 was declared as Paramedic Services Week in Prince Albert during a celebration at Parkland Ambulance.

“We are going to be doing a demonstration this morning in the back of one of our ambulances, give you an opportunity to see the place and meet some of our paramedics, many of which are out on calls this morning already,” director of public affairs Lyle Karasiuk said. “Just (to) have you experience what it is to be a paramedic here in Prince Albert and give you a taste of what we do each and every day and give you a new appreciation for that.”

Mayor Greg Dionne, who had the opportunity to try some paramedic skills on a mannequin in the back of an ambulance, stressed how important paramedics are in the community.

“This is an exciting time because to celebrate paramedics, it is just not that they are our lifesavers in community -- they are volunteers and they are partners in our community,” Dionne said. “They participate in all the events. People don’t understand these events they are at, they are there as volunteers … I want to thank them for all the work they do on behalf of all our citizens.”

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region was also on hand to throw their support behind the paramedics.

“On behalf of PAPHR I would like to say a big congratulations to Parkland Ambulance and all the paramedics for all the necessary work they d for the health region,” PAPHR board representative Mona Selanders said. “Not only is Parkland Ambulance a great group of neighbours to have in our community, they are also a very useful and extraordinary hardworking group of neighbours. I can’t imagine our community, Prince Albert, without the work that Parkland Ambulance does.”

The event highlighted some of the activities paramedics do during their every day routine.

“Most people see the paramedics -- they come to your house, they’ve taken care of the emergency, they have treated your loved one and away they go,” Karasiuk said. “Often people don’t realize the care and compassion and dedication that paramedics have. They go above and beyond.”

The theme for Paramedic Service Week is “Our Family Caring for Yours,” Parkland CEO Trevor Dutchak said.

“(It) is a very fitting theme for the week (because) that is what our motto is here where we care for you,” he said. “We train all of our staff, right from the beginning to the 38-year vet … that we care for our patients as if they are family members.

“If you ask anybody who had just started with us from one week to someone who is 30-plus years, they would say the same thing -- we treat our patients like they are our family members.”

He explained the week gives them a chance to recognize the paramedics in the community for their hard work, dedication, compassion and leadership they show every day.

Paramedics have become leaders in primary health care across the country and have helped shape things such as community paramedicine and collaborative emergency centres.

“Paramedics are responsive to the needs of the people of Saskatchewan,” Dutchak said. “We like to call it mobile health care or health care on wheels.”

There are more than 2,283 paramedics who respond to emergencies, 115,000 ground ambulance trips get done each year in Saskatchewan -- Parkland Ambulance has 55 paramedics, 10 emergency dispatchers and five administration staff.

“We have a lot of paramedics that are doing over 8,300 calls just in Prince Albert and area alone, so it is a very busy group here,” Dutchak said.

One of the main parts of the event was highlighting the work the paramedics do in the community, such as George Bolduc, who will be retiring in June and will be receiving a Stars of Life award this week.

“He has seen a lot of changes and where we came from to where we are now is absolutely amazing,” Dutchak said. “If it is not for George or our leaders before that, we would not be where we are.”

He said Bolduc still has the same drive and ambition that he had at the beginning of his career.

“The tones go off and he jumps out of his chair -- you would think it was his first week on the job,” Dutchak smiled. “If he could be the first one down to that ambulance (he would).”

Karasiuk also mentioned many of the paramedics do more than is necessary when responding to calls.

Thanks to the President’s Award, which Parkland Ambulance gives out internally each year, many of these paramedics are recognized.

A couple of years ago, a young paramedic responded to a bike accident, Karasiuk said.

“The young guy was OK, had a few scrapes but his bike’s gone,” he said. “The guys chipped in and bought him a brand new bike.”

That is just one example of the paramedics going above and beyond their call of duty, he said.

The paramedics also enjoy hearing back from the families they have helped during calls.

“Oftentimes they don’t hear from you -- they see you for the 10 minutes in the city or two hours on the highway in a transfer and they visit, form a a little bit of a bond, they get to know you, but they don’t know how things went,” Karasiuk said. “The biggest satisfaction for all of our men and women every day is they get to meet the people. We are seeing more and more of them come by, just to stop in and say thank you.”

It is important to see that there is more to paramedics than just saving lives, he said.

“We want the public to understand there is a human face behind the paramedics,” Karasiuk said. “There are people who really care -- it is not just their job, it is something they care passionately about, they care deeply about and want to make a difference each and every day.”

Student goes on ambulance ride along

One lucky St. Louis student was the Paramedic of the Day on Monday.

Maria Mitchell was at Parkland Ambulance, observing the paramedics on the job.

“She is going to be riding with us today to see what it is all about and how it is an exciting career,” CEO Trevor Dutchak said.

Mitchell, a Grade 12 student, is considering a career as a paramedic in the future. She was enjoying her time with the paramedics.

“I am just shadowing the paramedics and experiencing everything that they experience and following them around on all their rides and calls,” she said. “I’m very excited. (I) look forward to all the calls that we get and if there is a wide variety of them, that would be really nice to see.”  

Organizations: Prince Albert, Paramedic Services Week, PAPHR board

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, St. Louis

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