Leader-post helps paramedics replenish supply of stuffed animals
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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