This week paramedics are being recognized for their hard work as part of Paramedic Services Week — a time to highlight their contribution.
Although many have been worked hard over the course of the pandemic, deputy chief of Durham Region Paramedic Services John Riches says his paramedics have risen to that challenge.
“We’re extremely proud of the paramedics in the Region of Durham,” says Riches. “When the pandemic (hit), we were able to set up our mobile testing team with Durham health and Lakeridge health.”
What paramedics have gone through over the past 16 months has been unprecedented. For 20-year veteran Matthew Johnston, he says it’s been a rough ride for him in the Bowmanville detachment, but he says they all get through it together.
“This year seems more special than others,” said Johnston when asked about why this year’s Paramedic Services Week was important.
The week runs from May 23 to 29 and is a time for the profession to be celebrated.
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am to call all these colleagues here of mine not only colleagues but friends,” says Johnston. “Everybody’s been stepping up.”
And that’s not out of the ordinary for people in the profession, often putting themselves in harm’s way to help someone in need. But normally, Johnston says you wouldn’t find them looking to be noticed.
“We’re a very humble group most of the time and don’t always need recognition. But in light of the past year, it’s much appreciated.”
People in the paramedic profession have pivoted to work wherever they are needed, whether it’s transferring patients to different hospitals or even mobilizing clinics for testing and vaccinations. And this is on top of teams also responding to 911 calls.
“Most importantly it’s our 911 paramedics, responding to 911 calls every day that we have to recognize,” says Riches. “They deal with extreme amount of stress, having to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), having to screen everybody for COVID, which they didn’t have to do before. And every day they rise to the challenge.”
The province awarded two Durham Region paramedics for paramedic bravery as part of the week’s celebration.
Although it’s been a lot of work for staff, Stephanie Taylor, a paramedic in the region, says she feels this year has really given all paramedics a chance to show their stuff.
“It just shows people what we’re capable of. It’s not just life-saving procedures in ambulances. We’re working in vaccine clinics, community paramedic programs. It’s amazing how versatile we can be in this profession.
“We’re really excited that in the last 16 months, our partners have realized the extreme amount of value that paramedics and paramedic services bring to the health-care system.”