I provide pre-hospital care to patients who call 911 for medical help. When somebody calls, we're notified by our dispatch to attend, and we go to the location, meet the patient, assess their medical concern and treat and stabilize them before transporting them to the hospital for further definitive care.
After high school I did my undergrad at the University of Toronto in pre-law, and from there I decided I wanted to get into the paramedic profession. I did some night school courses to get my high school science credits and applied to Humber College's paramedic program. I spent two years full-time in that program and at the same time also did a preceptorship - going out on the road as a paramedic student working with a Toronto EMS crew.
I realized partway through my legal studies that I wasn't interested in a 9-to-5-type profession. I wanted to do something in the medical field, something fast-paced and demanding, and I thought para-medicine would be a good fit.
We spent a great deal of time learning about obstetrical emergencies, and when I started as a paramedic, my first call involved a lady who ended up having a baby just prior to our arrival. I was able to assess the newborn baby, who was only a few minutes old when we arrived, ensure that she was happy and healthy and give her to her mother to hold for the first time.
My best experiences are delivering happy, healthy babies, which happens once every two or three years. It's humbling to be present for the beginning of a new life on this planet.
Humber is a great school to go to for all-round preparation for the paramedic profession. Lately, a lot more education has been geared to the psychological aspects of this job: dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, critical incident distress disorder. Humber brings in lecturers from outside and inside the profession to talk to students about their experiences and what they did to alleviate their on-the-job stress.
Certainly, the worst experiences involve dealing with families who have recently lost a loved one. Talking about various calls with my fellow paramedics, seeking the advice of more experienced paramedics and having a work-life balance are all very important.
The best paramedics? Those who are motivated, caring, compassionate and interested in advocating for their patients - especially the more vulnerable people in our society, such as children, the elderly and the homeless - and those who are prepared to bring the emergency room into the living rooms of their patients.
WHERE TO STUDY
Algonquin College (Ottawa) Advanced care paramedic: $5,147-$7,291/year (plus fees) algonquincollege.com
Cambrian College (Sudbury) Paramedic: $6,282/year (plus fees). cambriancollege.ca
Centennial College (Toronto) Bachelor of paramedicine: $3,810. centennialcollege.ca
Durham College (Oshawa) Paramedic: $7,498/year. durhamcollege.ca
Fanshawe College (London) Advanced care paramedic: $2,620/semester. fanshawec.ca
Georgian College (Barrie) Paramedic: $3,228/year. georgianc.on.ca
Humber College (Toronto) Paramedic: $4,435/year (plus fees). humber.ca
Trillium College (Burlington) Primary care paramedic: $17,600/program. trilliumcollege.ca