A City of Kawartha Lakes paramedic who while off-duty braved frigid waters to try to save a group of men was among the recipients of the inaugural Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery presented on Wednesday evening.
At the ceremony in Toronto, advanced care paramedic Beatrice Frasca, a member of the Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service, was among 10 paramedics recognized for acts of bravery.
She was bestowed with the honour following an incident at Bruce Peninsula National Park on Oct. 20, 2021, when she and her friends noticed a group of men preparing to cliff jump from the Grotto into the water below.
Frasca shouted warnings to the men about the water currents, which were strong and cold enough to induce sudden shock.
However, the men jumped into the water. Two emerged but one man was unresponsive.
That’s when Frasca and a friend took action. The award notes the pair climbed down a steep and slippery cliff edge and rescued the unconscious man by dragging him to shore.
Frasca provided care until emergency services arrived.
“Despite their brave efforts, the man did not survive, but their quick actions were able to assist the two other men who were suffering from cold exposure,” the province noted.
On Wednesday Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones presented the medals to Frasca and other paramedics who “demonstrated great courage risking their lives to save the lives of others.”
Initially known as the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery when it was created in 2015, there have been 74 recipients of the medal. This year the award was elevated to a provincial honour medal as the newly named Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery.
“As Lieutenant Governor, I have witnessed first-hand the remarkable selflessness and bravery of first responders,” Dowdeswell said.
“While it is often said we live in an uncertain time, few Ontarians actually experience uncertainty in their everyday working lives in quite the way that paramedics do. Before their shifts begin, they don’t know where they will be dispatched, under what circumstances, or how they will be asked to help. On behalf of a very grateful province, I thank this year’s exceptional award recipients for their commitment, their incredible courage, and their dedicated service.”
Other acts of bravery included moving a crashed plane to save passengers inside, diving to the bottom of Lake Ontario to rescue a man, helping a suicidal man on a highway ledge, and rescuing workers from a collapsed building.
The awards were presented during national Paramedic Services Week (May 21-27) with this year’s theme, “Diversity in Paramedicine – The Patient. The Provider. The Profession.”
“As we celebrate Paramedic Services Week, I am honoured to recognize the first Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery recipients for their courage protecting the people of this province in the face of grave risk and danger,” Jones said.
“Day in and day out, first responders put their duty to Ontarians and service first. These paramedics represent the very best of Ontario and our government is proud to recognize their significant contributions to keeping communities safe.”
Any Ontario paramedic is eligible to receive the medal for an act of exceptional courage that has occurred within the last 24 months. The honour can be bestowed posthumously.
The province says there are over 10,500 paramedics currently employed in Ontario, the largest group of paramedics in Canada.
Michael Sanderson, president of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs, says the association is “elated” with the creation of the Paramedic Medal of Bravery.
“Today is a momentous day as these are the first paramedics ever to be presented with the Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery elevating the level of honour and respect for their extraordinary acts of courage and the risks they faced,” he said.
“As we celebrate Paramedic Services Week and its theme of diversity in paramedicine, we’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize our diverse force of paramedics and their extraordinary dedication to serving the many unique communities throughout Ontario.”
Other recipients of medals can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.
More to come.