The Pulse of a Paramedic
Some people seem to follow a ‘calling’ which leads them to their chosen profession, like Stanstead’s Bruno Roy who wanted to be an ambulance paramedic since he was a youngster.
“When I was about five or six, my grandpa became very sick – he fell on the floor and he wasn’t moving. I remember the paramedics came and picked him up and did something to him, then took him away. He was all right after. I knew then that I wanted to do that job, to save other people’s grandpas,” explained Mr. Roy. “One of those guys that picked up my grandpa was a big guy with big glasses; that was Larry Reynolds. When I started working with Ambulance Stanstead, Larry was my first partner. I said to him, ‘You probably don’t remember me but I remember you.’”
Although that was fourteen years ago, Bruno’s enthusiasm for his profession has not abated. He has taken numerous advanced medical courses and is presently taking courses towards a DEC in his profession, a diploma which wasn’t available when he first trained for the job. What’s more, he does it all voluntarily and on his own time. “I’ve taken a lot of extra courses just for the knowledge. In my job, the more you know the less stress you have while working. And a lot of things change, like the way we give CPR, the dosage of medications. What’s great is that I can explain procedures to patients and help prepare them better for what’s ahead for them, but what’s hard is when you have a situation and someone needs a certain drug but I’m not allowed to give it to them. We’re working to get recognized as a profession in Quebec; right now we’re only insured to do certain procedures when we’re on the job,” he commented.
“Now, the big difference between ambulance technicians and the general public is: people see emergencies that we don’t see as emergencies. We don’t always rush when we get to the scene; we take our time, look around the scene, get the equipment out that we need, then go in and see what’s going on. This actually saves time but people sometimes get angry with us because we’re not rushing. We don’t take it personally; we know they’re under stress,” said Mr. Roy.
Speaking candidly, Bruno admitted that he’d like to see Ambulance Stanstead adopt a different model of work shift. “We are seven days on, seven days off. That means that, 24 hours a day for seven days, you have to be ready to get dressed and go to ambulance headquarters, get the ambulance and go when you get a call. Even though we’re only five minutes away it takes time, and it takes even longer in the winter time. What makes me mad is that, in Sherbrooke, they can have an ambulance at the side of the road, all ready and just waiting to go.”
“Sometimes you’ve just cooked a good meal and you get a call. That gets hard after a while. I’m still here because I love what I do, but often I want a normal life.” He’d rather work ‘by the hour’, which means two guys dressed and ready to go, at headquarters, 24 hours a day.
A community-minded paramedic, Mr. Roy is one of the driving forces behind this Saturday’s “Hero in 30” event, taking place at the Pat Burns Arena, in Stanstead. During the event, which includes health and safety exhibits, qualified instructors are hoping to train 300 people in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR.
“Since I first began working on the ambulance, I was often amazed that so many people didn’t know what to do in an emergency; they just stand around in shock. I was very upset with this situation so I went to my director and asked him why nobody knows what to do? He listened to me rant for an hour and a half, then he asked me what I could do. I went home and thought about it, then went back to my director and told him if he paid for me to take a course in CPR training, I would train people for free. That was in 2001, and we’ve been involved with the CAB ever since, training people.”
“The other guys on the team are all quite community-minded, too,” he continued. “They all do more than what’s asked of them. After we got two feet of snow in a snow storm a couple of years ago, there were no roads open so we worked out a service with the fire department using a stretcher and a skidoo and a 4x4; we did one call that day with the 4 x 4.”
Asked what he liked most about his job, Bruno said: “I enjoy a job that’s different every day and I like the challenge. It’s all about helping people.”
Stanstead Ambulance paramedic, Bruno Roy, very much ‘at home’ in the back of an ambulance, is one of the driving forces behind this Saturday’s “Hero in 30” training event.
Michael Everett (left), of the Tillotson Regional Coaticook Fund, presents a cheque to Yvon Labonté of the Club Amitie Age d’Or, of Ayer’s Cliff.