EDITORIAL: Paramedics risk health and safety every day

EDITORIAL: Paramedics risk health and safety every day

Paramedics load one motorist into an ambulance. (File photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

I’ve worked with many paramedics in the past, so I felt a special connection when reporting on the recent cycling tour that paid tribute to fallen first responders.

I remember the time when paramedics treated me for an injury I suffered during a recreational volleyball game in Okanagan Falls. I went to “bump” the ball that was hit out of bounds and ended up getting my finger caught in a door that was left partially open. The weight and momentum of my body closed the door on my finger and literally squashed it. The pain was so acute I went into shock. Of course, one of my teammates had to open the door to release my finger, which added another jolt of pain that I’ll never forget.

Anyway, the paramedics came and took me to the hospital, where I underwent surgery. I’ll spare you the details of that.

I later became a first responder myself and had the privilege to work with numerous paramedics from Penticton and Oliver.

These men and women are amazing, especially under pressure. And nothing seems to phase them, no matter how stressful the situation.

Paramedics risk their health and safety every time they respond to a call. They never know for sure what they are getting into until they arrive. It could be as routine as a patient suffering shortness of breath, to someone with an amputation. And watching them deal with a cardiac arrest makes you truly appreciate their skill set and expertise.

I used to cringe whenever they were subjected to an ornery patient who verbally abused them. Yet they kept their calm and treated them with respect. In some cases they have to let the police handle it.

Other times, sick patients cough on them and expose them to all kinds of germs. Yet these paramedics forge ahead with compassion.

They chose this profession for the sole purposes to help people in medical crises, and they do it unflinchingly because that is their calling.

Paramedics often go above and beyond their duty by making arrangements to have a patient’s pets looked after while they are in hospital.

While some people consider them saints or heroes, paramedics are only human who suffer many of the same sorrows we do. The fact is post-traumatic stress is a big problem among first responders.

The paramedic cycling tour was very uplifting to see as riders paid tribute to those who died in the line of duty. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.