National Paramedic Services Week, May 26 to June 1, celebrates the role paramedics play within the community. The annual event also raises awareness of safety issues, injury prevention and what to do in the event of an emergency.
“The week offers a chance to showcase the work we do, while also providing a venue to recognize and thank our paramedics for the dedication they bring to the career,” said Chris Spearen, York Region Paramedic Services acting chief and general manager. “It’s an important chance to build camaraderie among staff and to celebrate accomplishments.”
The York Region fleet is made up of 64 ambulances, 22 paramedic response units and 16 support vehicles. A team of more than 550 paramedics provide emergency response and community care to residents and visitors in the region, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 2018, local paramedics responded to 82,747 calls.
The paramedic profession has evolved and changed a lot over the past 25 years. The skills and training is stronger than ever. Paramedics must undergo a 450-hour, clinical-field placement before they can even apply to York Region Paramedic Services.
“Paramedic work used to be limited to advanced first aid and patient transport, which meant that fewer medical interventions could be performed on the scene or en-route to hospital,” says Spearen. “Now, in 2019, all paramedics are expected to undergo extensive training via a two-year college diploma or four-year university degree; which encompasses courses and lab work in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology and trauma care.
“The ability to provide enhanced patient care has also changed significantly. Paramedics are able to give a larger range of medications to help stabilize or treat acute issues, perform advanced airway care, chest needles, control abnormal heart rhythm, and more. The care received in the back of an ambulance is often life-saving and starts many essential processes before the patient even arrives at the emergency department.”
Paramedics bring a wide range of characteristics to their role.
“One thing that usually predicts career success is having a dedicated and compassionate approach to the range of work that is required,” said Spearen. “A good paramedic can respond to both the major incidents and to simpler calls with the same inquisitive mind and eagerness to help patients.
“Not every call is a big one – not every call demands a huge response with sirens. Sometimes the most impactful part of a typical day is helping someone with a lower-acuity medical call in their home, who doesn’t need to be transported to hospital. The time a paramedic takes to listen and interact with a patient and help determine that it is not a serious medical issue; those moments are reassuring and mean a lot to families.”
Photo: York Region paramedics (from the left) Nadish Dhukai, Michael Mahuda, Andrea Zanini Hooey, Amber Reid and Abbas Alibhai will be celebrating Paramedic Services Week, from May 26 to June 1.