Leader-post helps paramedics re­plen­ish sup­ply of stuffed an­i­mals

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Isiah Daw­son de­scribes work­ing in EMS as like a very large puzzle, a puzzle where each piece makes up a para­medic’s life.“Ev­ery call we go to is some­thing dif­fer­ent and cer­tain types of calls, they take away a puzzle piece,” said Daw­son of the dif­fi­cult and trau­matic mo­ments in­her­ent in the work of a first re­spon­der.But there’s one thing that helps, said Daw­son, and that’s bring­ing com­fort to a child in dis­tress in the form of a teddy bear.“That might give a lit­tle kid a smile and that’s maybe one less puzzle piece that gets taken away,” said Daw­son. “It makes our job way eas­ier and maybe (there’s) a lit­tle less im­pact on our men­tal health.”Daw­son and his col­league Nikkoli Hu­bic are mem­bers of Paramedics with Heart, a lo­cal non-profit geared to­ward sup­port­ing paramedics and the com­mu­ni­ties they serve.On Fri­day af­ter­noon, the pair loaded an am­bu­lance with 1,000 teddy bears do­nated by the Regina Leader-post to be de­liv­ered to Regina Gen­eral Hospi­tal’s pe­di­atric unit and lo­cal EMS units as part of the news­pa­per’s 18th an­nual Plush Bear Program.“Hav­ing this op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in such a large program, ... it’s go­ing to make a big dif­fer­ence for our pa­tients as well as our EMS providers,” said Daw­son.Each am­bu­lance car­ries two teddy bears at all times. Most of the time, the bears go to pe­di­atric pa­tients, but adult pa­tients with autism or other in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties also find com­fort in them and even re­quest them at times.“When chil­dren are ill, they’re of­ten eas­ily upset and now they have to in­tro­duce a stranger into their life, like ... paramedics that come barg­ing into their home and start pok­ing and prod­ding,” said Hu­bic.He said a com­mon EMS call in­volv­ing chil­dren is for febrile seizures, which are brought on by in­creased body tem­per­a­tures.The seizures can be quite dis­ori­ent­ing and scary for the kids, and Hu­bic said hav­ing a teddy bear to of­fer them af­ter­wards can make a big dif­fer­ence.“It can some­times just be enough to have the child re­lax a bit so we can carry on with our as­sess­ment prop­erly,” he said.Daw­son of­ten uses the teddy bears to mir­ror treat­ments he needs to do on the chil­dren, like ban­dage a leg.“I find if they have some­thing else to look at that’s very sim­i­lar to them, it makes it so much eas­ier,” he said.As much as the teddy bears help the peo­ple whose arms they end up in, they also make a dif­fer­ence for the paramedics who give them away.In a job rife with trauma, Hu­bic said the sim­ple act of mak­ing a tough day a lit­tle bet­ter with a stuffed toy is some­thing he doesn’t take for granted.“We have a lot of ups and downs in EMS and we try to re­ally savour the ups,” he said. “To have an op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce a kid to a new toy when they’re hav­ing a rough day, that’s an up I get to take home at the end of the day and I’m very grate­ful for that.”I had a re­ally warm, lov­ing sit­u­a­tion to grow in and to foster con­fi­dence and to foster cre­ativ­ity. TA­TIANA MASLANY, on grow­ing up in Regina

Para­medic Nikkoli Hu­bich, right, passes boxes of plush bears do­nated by the Leader-post to para­medic Isiah Daw­son to load into an am­bu­lance out­side the news­pa­per’s Park Street of­fice. The bears are given to chil­dren in dis­tress by paramedics.

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