Medavie Health Services Messenger

Our belief is in a better life for the communities we serve.

Leadership transition at Medavie EMS Elgin


As we prepare for the year ahead, I would like to share with you that Malcolm (Mac) Gilpin, our General Manager/ Chief of Paramedic Services for Medavie EMS Elgin Ontario (MEMSEO) will transition from his current role and soon focus on a new opportunity as a consultant to our Medavie Health Services family of Operating Companies. This transition will occur over the next few months.

Mac, who has overseen the service in Elgin County since 2014, brought with him 40+ years’ experience to the role. As a staple of the surrounding community, Mac was formerly the owner of the Forest, Watford, Glencoe, Bothwell, Petrolia, Thedord Ambulance Services from 1974-2000 and VP & Owner of Thames EMS Inc. (Middlesex-London, 2000-2012 & Elgin-St. Thomas, 2004-2014). He has been instrumental in advancing MEMSEO’s strategic goals, while building staff capabilities, supporting labour relations and finding ways to improve service levels for Elgin County and surrounding areas. He has built strong relationships with Elgin County’s Chief Administration Officer and other key local stakeholders – positioning MEMSEO as partner in care. Under Mac’s leadership, MEMSEO has grown into a team of over 100 paramedics and management staff.

With all his experience and knowledge relating to ambulance operations, Medavie Health Services is fortunate to have Mac stay on in this new capacity, supporting us in our continued efforts to ensure we can bring health care to people, when and where they need it.  

With the ongoing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that all of our employees have played a key role in keeping our patients and community safe. As we recruit Mac’s replacement, we will work closely with him and the rest of the MEMSEO Management team to ensure operations continue without interruption and to assess the operational needs of the service. Our goal is to ensure our employees can continue to deliver high-quality care, while understanding the local challenges being experienced and how we can implement additional measures to address them, together.

In the meantime, I want to take the opportunity to thank Mac for his ongoing commitment to fostering a strong team and for bringing the service to where it is today. As a health solutions partner, people are our biggest drivers of our success and Mac is certainly no exception. We look forward to continuing to work with all of our employees to further support our service commitment in Elgin County, while delivering community paramedicine and other mobile integrated health solutions.

Matthew Crossman
VP, Operations
Medavie Health Services

Seeing the future of paramedicine in community-based care


Three years after its launch, EHS Operations community paramedic Brian MacDonald has come to see the Cape Breton Community-based Paramedic Program in a unique way. 

“It’s a stool with (multiple) legs and (each of the) legs are equally important,” MacDonald said, describing the collaborative care provided by a team with varied expertise, including a community paramedic, clinical support telecare nurse, and online medical physician.

Since December 2018, the program has seen community paramedics perform in-home services and clinical support telecare nurses provide virtual care services up to 72 hours after being discharged from the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and Glace Bay General Hospital in-patient units or Emergency Departments.

Subsequent phases of the program have included services on the surgical floors of the CBRH with additional phases planned in the future.

The program operates via a referral-based system where patients are referred to the program by a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse or respiratory therapist.

Each referral is clinically reviewed by a clinical support telecare nurse and visits are scheduled in consultation with the referrer, patient or substitute decision maker. 

“We don’t see them face-to-face, but we give them a call at an appointed time, and we go over everything that they basically need to know,” said Erin Murray, who has worked as a clinical telecare nurse with the program for a year.

“We answer their questions about what they’re experiencing with their illness, we give suggestions for ways that they can improve and manage their illness at home.”

MacDonald, who has been a paramedic for 38 years, calls the program “slow medicine”, a marked difference from the acute emergency care ground paramedics routinely provide.

“You’re looking at the patient holistically, you’re looking at more than just their illness,” he said. “That’s the primary reason you’re there, but you’re looking at their quality of life, making their lives a little better, a little safer.”

Together, the team – including paramedic, nurse, doctor and referrer – reviews the individual care needs and then builds a care plan through consensus, an evolution of the program since its inception.

“I think that is one of the greater things we arrived at, where this program landed,” said Dr. Andrew Travers, the EHS Provincial Medical Director. “That wasn’t by design, we didn’t plan it, but it is an example of how a medic, a nurse, and a doctor all came together differently and they come up with a plan.”

Care plans discussions are collaborative and include the referrer, happening in real time and sometimes within full view of the patient and/or their family. 

“And it’s good, they’re seeing this collaboration unfold,” Travers said, citing lessons learned from Collaborative Emergency Centres across Nova Scotia.

“It’s a different place, but it’s a care plan that’s driven by consensus, and so there’s this roundtable, a conversation,” he added.

“And if one of (us) wasn’t comfortable with the plan, then it would be ‘ok, we need to revisit this’. You want to pay attention to that intuition that the nurse has or the medics has or the doctor has.”

Murray said using this collective expertise better serves the patient.

“Having the (team) work together, we’re able to get a big picture of what’s going on in that patient’s life,” she said.

“We’re able to advocate for the patient on (multiple) different levels, but basically with the goal of bringing it together as one.”

Patients and their families are taking notice of that unique model of care and paramedics are hearing about it, MacDonald said.

“I’ve never seen positive feedback like we’ve had on this program. We’re seeing the results of that now because patients are going to see their doctors or other specialist or they’re ending up back in the hospital and they’re demanding community paramedics come back,” he said. “They’re actually naming us by name and saying ‘we want the community paramedics to come back and see us again’.”

Travers sees this as the future of paramedicine, as healthcare providers look for new and innovative ways to meet people’s needs.

“There’s input into the healthcare system, then there’s output from the healthcare system, then there’s this example of keeping patients out of the system. And that’s what I think the new EMS model is going to be,” he said.

“I’m glad to be part of that whole group that’s going to grow in this paradigm.”

Caring Together campaign


Thank you for sharing your stories and congratulations to our prize winners!

Throughout the month of December, we launched our Caring Together campaign to demonstrate how you bring our values to life in the communities across Canada where we live and work.

The stories that were shared represent how we are an organization with a whole lot of heart, and we have some truly incredible employees.

Below are some highlights of how our employees lent their helping hands during our Caring Together campaign:

At one medical call last winter, we cleared inches of ice from the stairs and driveway at a medical call to make access easier for the older residents who called 911. It was unrelated to the call, but we knew it would be a big deal for the residents to clear it themselves.”

“Approximately 2 weeks ago a man was standing on the streets with a sign that said “hungry.” Here in our rural community, this is unheard of. We have no shelters, and it was a cold evening. A grocery store was close by, so I went in and got him water a hot meal and some snacks. I couldn’t offer him somewhere to stay but at least I knew he had water and food to get by for a few days.”

“Doing my part to help women and children at Crossroads for women! I have started a group to help sponsor several ladies and kids needing assistance this Christmas, as Crossroads is seeing a large intake right now and are desperate. I am leading the initiative and collecting donations for multiple sponsorships.”

“I volunteer regularly with our local Minor Hockey Association (Cape Breton County Minor Hockey). I have volunteered as our Covid Representative for the organization when the pandemic began and continue to do so. Volunteers are at the core of Minor Hockey Associations and without them cannot continue to offer children sports and all the benefits that come with it, especially during the pandemic.”

“For the past 6 years, I have been giving to those in need in my community. I prepare a box that includes everything for a Christmas meal so that parents have the chance to buy some gifts for their children. I chose a family at random by myself so that everything is confidential. Also, I like to give of my time as a volunteer to the elderly.”

“Since 1988, through our local Salvation Army, along with a local radio station (650 CKOM), here in Saskatoon, there has a been an annual Christmas initiative here in Saskatoon called Adopt A Family.  For many years, our MCCC has participated in adopting a local family and some Christmases, we have helped 2 families.”

… And a few more special stories of how you are making a difference in our communities.

Thank you for sharing your stories. Congratulations to our prize winners!

During the Caring Together campaign, every employee submission earned a ballot to be entered into a prize draw for a $50 gift card to the Medavie Boutique. We have 10 prizes to give away and, with nine submissions, it means everyone who entered will receive a $50 gift card to the Medavie Boutique. Here are our winners:

  1. Tom Raithby, Senior Contract Analyst
  2. Melanie Doucette, Primary Care Paramedic
  3. Cindy Arsenault, Fleet Resource Administrator
  4. Natalia Gallant, Manager, Quality and Privacy
  5. Raymonde Robichaud, Patient Care Attendant
  6. Magali Robichaud, Extra-Mural Administrative Support
  7. Monique Cormier, Extra-Mural Administrative Support
  8. Caroline Noel, Extra-Mural Administrative Support
  9. Lisa Kennedy, Manager, MCCC-C

Thank you again for sharing your stories. We love to see our employees engaging with our activities and sharing how you make a difference. As you can see from our Caring Campaign, you are likely to win a prize the next time you participate!

Upcoming CCDI Webinars for January


All Medavie employees have access to these events for FREE!

The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) is a solution designed to help employers, diversity/human rights/equity, and human resources practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace. At Medavie, we have partnered with the CCDI to develop our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.

It is through this partnership that all Medavie employees have access to attend FREE CCDI webinars that cover a variety of DEI topics.

Upcoming Webinars for the month of January are:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion fundamentals (EN)
    January 11, 2022 at 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET
    What is diversity and inclusion? Why is this important for workplaces across Canada? What is the business, people and social imperative? Join us to cover the building blocks of your DEI comprehension.
  • Intersectionality in the workplace (EN)
    January 18, 2022, at 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET
    Workplaces reflect dominant social thought and as such, they can be places where oppressions are reproduced unconsciously. In this webinar, we will explore the theory of intersectionality and apply a practical lens to help leaders understand the interlocking systems of dominance. We will also share strategies on how to create a safe work environment for an intersectionally diverse workforce.

    To register for a webinar for free, follow these easy steps:
    • Click the link for the webinar you wish to attend.
    • Fill out the required information.
    • Write in Medavie as the organization
  • Select Employee Partner
  • Done! Enjoy the webinar.

Medavie’s COVID-19 Response Update: Reconnecting children and youth to healthy, active living


As part of our ongoing efforts to support Canadian communities during COVID-19, I am pleased to update you on a partnership that will re-connect young people with healthy active living. 

BGC Canada (formerly Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada)

BGC Canada is Canada’s largest child and youth serving charitable organization. BGC Clubs “work where they are needed”, serving over 200,000 Canadian children and youth, and their families in over 736 locations nationwide. Through adventure, play and discovery, the Clubs encourage and empower children and youth to develop healthy lifestyles, a life-long passion for learning, leadership and life skills, and a sense of social responsibility.

As part of our goal to increase Canadians’ access to healthy living, Medavie has invested $500,000 to support BGC Clubs across Canada to help young people recover from the impact of the pandemic by reconnecting them with their local Clubs’ recreational programs and opportunities to be physically active. 

Provided through the Medavie Health Foundation, the funding will be used to hire staff and increase young people’s participation in recreation programs, adapt programs and facilities for public health protocols, and support other initiatives that help Canadian youth stay active and live well. 

We are proud to support the Clubs in engaging young people in activities that challenge and enrich their minds, bodies and spirts, and nurture their self-esteem.

Learn about the Clubs and their local impacts in a new story published on

Feel free to share with your colleagues and friends. And, while you’re visiting this page, consider checking out the rest of Our Stories, a section on our website highlighting the people, projects and initiatives that are helping to improve the wellbeing of Canadians. New stories are added regularly. 

Joanne Kviring
Executive Director
Medavie Health Foundation

Spreading holiday joy in our communities


The holidays have always been a time to share some comfort and joy with friends, family and those around us. While things have looked a little different over the past couple years, that hasn’t stopped our Medavie Health Services employees from taking the time to give back to their communities through food and toy drives and parades across the country. Thank you to everyone who have helped to make the holidays a little brighter for all of us!

New study to highlight vital role medical communications officers have in recognizing agonal breathing


EHS Operations communications officers are highly trained and very experienced in identifying when patients need immediate help, and they act as the eyes and ears of responding paramedics, while also providing key instructions to callers.

And that responsibility is especially important in recognizing a symptom called ‘agonal breathing’ in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, which is often misinterpreted as a sign of life by the 911 caller.

“If we can recognize when a caller says ‘my husband just fell to the floor, he’s not conscious and he’s gasping’, that, for us, should be a trigger to say that that is ineffective breathing,” said Michelle Young, a Communications Officer with the EHS Medical Communications Centre.

“So, being able to pick those words up are really important and can save lives. In cardiac arrest, seconds make a difference, so even if we can shave 15 to 30 seconds until we can get them positioned and start CPR, that can have a difference in having a positive outcome.”

In Canada, a cardiac arrest happens every 13 minutes. The vast majority of these cases occur in prehospital settings, which makes early recognition, immediately calling 9-1-1, and bystander intervention vital to a positive outcome for the patient.

However, bystanders may not be able to recognize the seriousness of a cardiac arrest when agonal breathing is present, and may be reluctant to perform CPR.

Agonal breathing – described as short, noisy, laboured or gasping breaths – occurs in 25 per cent of cardiac arrest cases, and this also poses a challenge to 911 and medical communication centre call takers as well.

And that’s where medical communications officers can make a big impact in properly diagnosing a cardiac arrest.

“The first thing that we have to do is figure out what they’re seeing, and so often times agonal breathing is described in a very specific way. So, it’s usually something like ‘they’re not breathing right’ or ‘they’re gasping’, ‘they’re breathing funny’, ‘they’re snoring’,” Young said.

“So picking up on those words in conjunction with the patient not being responsive or not conscious – those are kinds of the first cues that we pick up in order to identify that in what’s called our fast track – which is the fastest way for us to get to CPR instructions.”

Data shows that agonal breathing is responsible for 50 per cent of prehospital cardiac arrests being misdiagnosed, resulting in delayed or withheld CPR. This is why it is so important for communication officers to quickly recognize agonal breathing as a sign of cardiac arrest and quickly begin coaching the caller on how to give effective CPR.

That’s where education and training are key for medical communications officers to be able to identify that, particularly if the caller is providing incomplete information, Young said.

“A lot of times it’s because people don’t either recognize, or there’s so much going on, that they’re almost scared to admit what they’re seeing,” she said.

“And, so, it’s something that if we don’t get to that fast track, if they don’t give us that information or if we can’t recognize the words that they use, then we have to ask more questions before we can get to the actual CPR portion.”

Aware that recognizing agonal breathing is a significant issue, Dr. Christian Vaillancourt at the Ottawa Research Institute has conducted extensive research in this area, and has developed a theory-based educational intervention for communications officers.

The training was launched in five provinces across Canada, with Nova Scotia being the first to do so on Dec. 17, 2020. Refresher training was launched this past October.

Dr. Vaillancourt and his team launched a study to analyze the impact of that training intervention, collecting data one year before and one year after implementation to determine if there was a noticeable increase in bystander CPR rate.

Communications centres in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, P.E.I, Calgary, and Ontario, will participate in the study. The Nova Scotia EHS Medical Communications Centre have also previously collaborated with Dr. Vaillancourt on this important research on agonal breathing and how communications officers can recognize it quickly.

Judah Goldstein –research coordinator with EHS Operations and assistant professor with Dalhousie University’s Department of Emergency Medicine – Division of EMS and affiliated researcher with Nova Scotia Health – says his team is reviewing all cardiac arrests in Nova Scotia that meet the eligibility criteria of the current study.

Goldstein’s team will be looking at the frequency and impact of communication officer recognition of agonal respirations and then initiating dispatch-assisted bystander CPR.

While data is still being collected for the study, the research team’s hypothesis is that the bystander CPR rate will increase after the educational intervention, potentially leading to more lives saved.

“The goal of the educational program is to improve medical communications centre officers recognition of agonal respiration and then start bystander CPR instructions,” Goldstein said.

“And, then, ultimately, if they start instructions more frequently that should lead to an increase in survival for patients in Nova Scotia.”

Young said the most important thing for people to do if they see someone collapse, even if they appear to be breathing, is to immediately call for help.

Giving early CPR to patients who have collapsed and are in cardiac arrest – with or without agonal breathing – is a key thing bystanders can do to help, and EHS communication officers are there to provide clear instructions to callers when it is needed.

“If somebody collapses, call 911 and then you trust what we’re telling you,” she said.

“Listening to the instructions and trusting what we’re telling you is really important.”

Upcoming CCDI Webinars for December


The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) is a solution designed to help employers, diversity/human rights/equity, and human resources practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace. At Medavie, we have partnered with the CCDI to develop our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.

It is through this partnership that all Medavie employees have access to attend FREE CCDI webinars that cover a variety of DEI topics.

Upcoming Webinars for the month of December are:

  • Addressing racism at work (EN)
     December 7, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
    Racism can show up in different ways in the workplace. Join us to explore the manifestations of individual and systemic racism, and what you can do to identify and address them.
  • A deeper dive on the brain and the science of unconscious bias (EN)
     December 16, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
     Unconscious bias is rightly becoming one of the most sought-after topics within the D&I learning and development space. Join us to further explore how unconscious bias plays out in the brain and the tools we can use to retrain our brains.

    To register for a webinar for free, follow these easy steps:
    • Click the link for the webinar you wish to attend.
    • Fill out the required information.
    • Write in Medavie as the organization
  • Select Employee Partner

  • Done! Enjoy the webinar.

MHS West – Moose Jaw Deputy Chief nominated for the Kubota Community Hero Contest


MHS West – Moose Jaw Deputy Chief Angela Sereda has been recently recognized as a top-three finalist in the Kubota Community Hero contest.

Sereda is certainly well-deserving of the spot as she has a very large outreach within the community. She also co-founded the Tru-Unity Girls leadership Program six years ago, which continuously inspires and teaches young women.

“Just to really show that leadership happens at any age and that is something they can strive for,” says Sereda. “This program has really taken off. It develops their leadership skills. We really work to embrace their strengths and to really celebrate diversity with this group.” 

She has also been working in paramedicine for almost 30 years and is the Chair of the Heartland Hospice in Moose Jaw. 

Not long ago, she established the ‘Community Paramedic Connected-Care Model’ which provides medical support, treatment, and resources for local people who are dealing with mental health illness and substance abuse disorder. She is also creating and teaching curriculum-based basic medical skills to elementary and high school students in the city and the surrounding area. 

You can read more about Angela’s nomination in the full article here. (in English only)  

Caring Together – A Message from our Senior Management Team


We’re an organization with a whole lot of heart. 

Every day, you come to work with a strong sense of purpose: improving the wellbeing of Canadians. United by our shared goals and core values, we are contributing to a healthier, stronger Canada for everyone. 

Our experiences through the pandemic have shone a bright light on the importance of helping each other. As we approach the season of giving, we’re launching a month-long Caring Together campaign, coinciding with #GivingTuesday, that will bring our values to life in the communities across Canada where we live and work. 

To kick-off the campaign, we asked our Senior Management Team to shine a light on a few ways our operations gave back this year…

Whether making a charitable donation or volunteering your free time to a local organization, lending a helping hand makes a real difference in the lives of Canadians and the health of our communities. That’s something we can all get behind and be proud of. Together, we can put the heart into everything we do at Medavie.

Tell us how you are being caring and community-minded by sharing photos or stories about your acts of kindness by emailing them to throughout the month of December. Every email will earn a ballot for a chance to win prizes from the new Medavie Boutique.

Thank you for your service to our organization and our communities. 

Continue to take good care of yourselves and each other. 

And high fives everyone!

Bernard Lord