Paramedic Services Week open house
Hands-on event provides insight into the profession
Like many paramedics, Michelle Greenspoon wanted to make a difference.
“I had a general interest in emergency response,’ she says, remembering growing up as a lifeguard and seeing it as a logical next step.
Life pulled her in a different direction, to a job in an office. But something else was calling. She returned to paramedicine as a way to have a meaningful, impactful career, while balancing home and work life.
With six years of experience in the field, the PCP — or primary care paramedic — was one of several paramedics and supervisors on hand this week to offer a glimpse into their world during a hands-on session at the Hamilton Paramedic Service training centre on Stone Church Road.
The event was held in conjunction with Paramedic Services Week in Canada, a chance to learn about and recognize the work these front-line professionals do.
Today’s paramedics will spend an average of two to three years studying and training, and many more hours each year reviewing and learning. Their skill set is vast — from administering a variety of medications, to defibrillation and intubation for advanced care paramedics. Their work far exceeds responding to critical injuries.
There are a number of programs run by HPS, such as their @Home Community Paramedic Program, which assist members of the community with less serious issues and free up ambulances for more serious health threats.
Even with pre-emptive programs like this in place, HPS is busy. In 2016, they responded to nearly 65,000 events, logging more than 1.7 million kilometres in the process. Those patient numbers strain resources, resulting in longer wait times or extra time off-loading at hospitals.
Although the tools available today are state of the art, for front-line workers such as Greenspoon, it’s the people that matter most. When she first started, she had a vision of paramedic work.
Turns out, it was more like television than real life.
“When you become a paramedic, you think every call you walk into is going to be heart attacks and car accidents. What you learn very quickly is that that’s actually a very low percentage of what we’re doing,” she says.
Still, holding someone’s hand, or simply talking them through a situation, can be of tremendous importance to a patient, and is not forgotten.
“I go to an event, and somebody pulls me aside and says, ‘Do you remember me? You helped me and my mom.’ I didn’t realize my five minutes with that person was so impactful. And that is a really feel-good moment.”
For paramedics like Michelle Greenspoon, above, and Mark Panagapka, left, their work far exceeds responding to critical injuries. Their skill set is vast — from administering a variety of medications, to defibrillation and intubation for advanced care paramedics.
Hamilton Paramedic Service Deputy Chief Russell Crocker demonstrates how to aid a choking victim. Today’s paramedics will spend an average of two to three years studying and training, and many more hours each year reviewing and learning.