By Tim Kalinowski
Being a paramedic is a stressful job. When called to the scene of an accident decisions made by the EMS paramedics in transit can often mean the difference between life and death.
Serving Medicine Hat, Redcliff and other parts of Cypress County paramedic teams stationed at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital must be ready to respond at any time of the day or night by air or by road.
Last Tuesday Medicine Hat EMS held an open house at the regional hospital to show off their lifesaving skills and to meet the public. It was one of many such open houses held in Brooks, Bow Island and Taber and other southern Alberta locales last week to mark National Paramedic Services Week.
“Often people see what we do under the worst circumstances,” said Chris Williams, operations supervisor for the south zone, when asked why such open houses were important. “We don’t always have time when we are on ambulance calls to explain everything we do. We try to the best we can at those times but it doesn’t always work out.”
During the open house on Tuesday, the public was invited to view equipment and ambulances used in emergency response and attendees were treated to a few demonstrations. There were local EMS displays, and the Medical Simulation Training Unit brought a truck down from Calgary to simulate an emergency childbirth with a live action mannequin. One could watch the procedure unfold through a monitor display in the simulator’s cab as EMS personnel worked to deliver the mechanical baby.
Williams said such simulations are often used by his members to train under conditions close to what they would experience out in the field.
“In this case, it’s a real, live mannequin that breathes and talks. And you can actually do medical procedures on it to help with skills and training,” explained Williams.
Williams also said he was grateful to all who came out to the open house, especially those with questions to ask.
“It’s all part of EMS week,” confirmed Williams. “We are inviting anybody who wants to come out to see what we do, and if they have any questions we can talk about it.”
Joan Armour came to get a close look at the equipment and techniques local paramedics use to save lives. She has had relatives in need of such services in the past. She felt the open house was a great way to learn and express her appreciation to all the paramedics who are out there day after day responding to the emergency medical needs of the region.
“We are really fortunate to have such an excellent team of very dedicated EMS personnel in Medicine Hat,” said Armour.