COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Feb. 13, 2014

Lyle Karasiuk
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Have you ever stopped and wondered what it takes to become a paramedic? These highly skilled and dedicated men and women are the front line health care providers who respond in the ambulance to your medical or trauma emergency. But what steps are involved in becoming a paramedic?

First, all paramedics are graduates from a paramedic program that meets the National Occupational Competency Profiles (NOCP). These are the educational standards set forth by the Paramedic Association of Canada and approved at many different levels.

Next the paramedic will have met the registration requirements for the provincial licensing body. In the case of Saskatchewan, that is the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics (SCOP) who is a self-regulating professional body. SCOP is a legislated professional body that through clearly defined governance ensures to the public that the paramedic responding to your emergency is competent.

Paramedics in Saskatchewan control their own direction professionally through the College when it comes to protocols, standards of practice or even discipline. This means that the care provided by paramedics is equal at all levels by when compared to our peers like physicians or nurses. Paramedics regulate their own professional standards.

The paramedic also has written a formal national examination that tests their knowledge.

Third the paramedic then heads out to look for a job. Across Saskatchewan there are plenty of opportunities to be hired through the many ground ambulance services. Different services employ different hiring practices however at Parkland Ambulance Care we have a comprehensive hiring process.

Step 1 complete an application and submit it with the required documentation

Step 2 if your name is selected participate in a hiring process that includes a physical fitness assessment, scenario testing, written examination and personal interview

Step 3 if you are hired there is a series of orientation sessions and then you are well on your way through to a great future career.

So what’s a typical day like as a paramedic at Parkland Ambulance Care?

There are several different shift patterns but first you have to be willing to work, evenings, weekends, shifts of various lengths. Most shifts begin with vehicle and equipment checks, professional development and of course ambulance responses. These responses will see a wide variety of situations but the excitement of no two days being the same; the challenges of caring for people; but most of all making the difference. Paramedics save lives using advanced medical technology and a cool head to work through the complicated challenges they face.

When the incident brings the paramedic to a cold highway collision, a sick child in the middle of the night or a critical care transfer to another health care facility, the paramedic is the health care professional making the life changing decisions caring for your loved one.

Paramedics are one of the most trusted health care professionals yet still the only health professional who still makes house calls. A stroll into Parkland Ambulance will show you some of these dedicated men and women. We welcome the public to drop by or for schools and groups to book tours.

Thinking about a new career where no two days are the same, great team of people who work in some of the most challenging situations in this province? Maybe you’d like to learn more about what a paramedic does. Maybe you think, hey this might be the career I am looking for, then why not come and visit with us to learn more.

The formal training program in Saskatchewan is offered through SIAST. You can also learn more by visiting our website at www.parklandambulance.com or by calling 306-953-8358. Being a paramedic is one of the most rewarding health professions!

Organizations: Saskatchewan College of Paramedics, National Occupational Competency Profiles, Paramedic Association of Canada Parkland Ambulance Care

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Parkland

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