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Category Archives: Medavie Health Services West

MHS West AB photo wins Paramedic Chiefs of Canada photo contest!

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The Paramedic Chiefs of Canada (PCC) recently hosted a photo contest for paramedics to submit photos that highlighted paramedic service in action. There were three categories for individuals to submit a photo to, including: community spirit, teamwork, and agency / department.

The winner of the PCC 2020 photo challenge in the agency / department category was MHS West paramedic Tracy Sherk! We also want to congratulate Amanda Dobie for capturing the winning photograph.

If you’d like to see all of the photos that were submitted for the PCC photo challenge, please click here.

Celebrating 40 years as Saskatoon paramedics

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A lot can change in four decades, especially in the medical profession. Just ask Marty Bowman and Randy Erickson, who celebrated their 40th anniversary together as MHS West paramedics on February 4,, 2020. Over that time, they’ve seen the paramedic profession evolve from one focused on getting a patient to an emergency room as quickly as possible, to one that practically brings the emergency room to the patient.

Marty and Randy recently sat down with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix to reflect on their four decades of service and share the changes to their profession that they’ve experienced over the past 40 years.

“When I first started, basically it was a load and go — you have your Class 4 driver’s licence and a First Aid course,” explained Marty. “Now, it’s highly skilled and trained paramedics giving lots of treatment at home now, prior to transfer to the hospital.”

Randy paints an even more vivid image of those days as a paramedic: “I actually started in Estevan, SK in 1974 when I got out of high school, and back then we had a station wagon that wasn’t even a high-ride. So could you imagine trying to treat people in the back of a station wagon, sitting beside them on a little seat that was right beside the stretcher? You couldn’t do CPR or anything in there because there was no room.”

Among the highlights over the past four decades, Marty explains how it’s MHS West’s Last Wish Program, in which palliative care patients are driven to a place that has special meaning for them. “I think there’s such an immense amount of gratitude when we do this,” said Marty. “That’s one of the things I enjoy right now, being able to make myself available to each family so that they can enjoy the last wish with their family member.”

For Randy, one of his most memorable moments was the month he spent in Indonesia as part of a paramedic team helping areas devastated by the 2004 tsunami. “We looked after health care stuff, going to all these different areas that had little villages that were wiped out and they were starting to set up stuff,” he explained in the article. “I remember one place, we went to a gravel store … and we bought a bunch of bricks and cement and sand and hauled it all back to where this one camp was being set up and then made a well out of it. They really appreciated us being over there.”

Given the outpouring of congratulations coming in from across the city, province and even the country, it’s clear that many people appreciate the care Randy and Marty have provided over the past 40 years. Thank you both for your 40 years of service and your continued dedication to caring for the people of Saskatoon!

Marty Bowman, right, and Randy Erickson look at photos of themselves from when they began their careers (Photo credit: Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

MHS West paramedics deliver baby on bridge

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It’s not often that paramedics deliver a baby. It’s even more uncommon that a baby is delivered while the ambulance is driving over a bridge during morning rush hour.

However, that’s exactly what happened recently in Saskatoon, when Medavie Health Services West paramedics were transporting a North Battleford, SK woman to the Royal University Hospital.

Saskatoon’s University Bridge

As they neared the hospital, the ambulance crew realized that the baby wasn’t going to wait for their arrival. While one paramedic continued driving across the city’s University Bridge, the other paramedic deliver a healthy baby girl in the back of the ambulance just after 7am.

“There was no waiting,” said Troy Davies, MHS West Director of Public Affairs. “Baby wanted out immediately but everything went smooth and everything was okay. Thankfully, the ambulance was moving pretty slow because there was heavy traffic that morning.” 

While it’s not often for a paramedic to deliver a baby, MHS West recertifies all of its paramedics in childbirth every year. It was training that undoubtedly proved invaluable that morning, as the ambulance continued rolling through downtown traffic.

“The paramedics were extremely happy to be a part of that experience,” Troy added. “They did an amazing job in a tough situation.”

MHS West paramedics Mitchell and KC

Australian paramedic student with MHS West hopes to learn skills he can use during brushfires back home

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For the past three years, MHS West has been partnering with two universities in Australia to give their paramedic students on-the-job training in Saskatoon. In addition to learning how to deal with the extreme temperature difference between an Australian summer and a Canadian Winter, the six week work placements have proven invaluable for giving students skills they can take back home to their own communities.

This year, MHS West’s three Australian paramedic students have an added sense of purpose, knowing that the skills they learn could make a life-saving difference to those in the path of the wildfires currently burning in their country.

As Rhys Hillsley, a paramedic student from South East Queensland’s Griffith University, said during an interview with Global News: “With it all going on now and not being able to be there to support my family and in any way I can for local communities, it’s put pressure on me a little bit more to make the most of my opportunity here.”

During their work placements, the Australian students work alongside MHS West paramedics, with assigned shifts on ground ambulances, the Saskatoon Health Bus, air ambulance and in the Community Paramedicine program. The program gives them real world experience, while their MHS West mentors gain a fresh understanding of paramedic practice in Australia and what’s being taught to the next generation of paramedics.

The work placement program began after Gerry Schriemer, MHS West Chief Operating Officer and Chief of EMS, met the director of Griffith University’s paramedicine program at a conference and discussed the possibility of hosting its students in Saskatoon.  Since then, MHS West has hosted over 20 Australian paramedic students, giving them the practical training they need to complete their education and a work experience they’ll never forget.

Rhys Hillsley, one of the Australian paramedic students, speaks to media during an interview.

Keeping Saskatchewan safe

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Since 2003, the province of Saskatchewan has been recognizing individuals who have been keeping its residents and visitors safe throughout their careers. This includes first responders, safety professionals and those whose work is directly related to the safety, security and protection of people.

This year, four MHS West Advanced Care Paramedics are among those who have received the Saskatchewan Protective Service Medal. Bob Wickenberg, Brett Hart, Rob Dziadyk and Trent Wilson were each recognized for more than 25 years of EMS service in the province. Together, they have helped enhance EMS service in Saskatchewan and keep their communities safe and secure.

Congratulations to Bob, Brett, Rob and Trent and thank you for your commitment safety!

Left to right: Bob Wickenberg, Brett Hart, Rob Dziadyk
The Protective Service Medal, with St. Edward’s Crown and the motto ‘qui civitatem tuentur’ (who guard the citizenry)

Making history in the skies over Saskatchewan

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When MHS West Critical Care Paramedic Jen Rondeau arrived for her August 2nd shift, she had no idea she would become part of Saskatchewan Air Ambulance history. However, along with her colleagues Carly St Onge, Tamara Kulyk and Crystal Lybeck, Jen would do just that as they became the first all-female flight crew since the service was launched in 1946.

To celebrate, Jen and her colleagues shared a couple selfies on social media at the start and end of their shift. The photos capture a special milestone for the crew, Saskatchewan Air Ambulance and for any girls and young women who dream of becoming part of an air ambulance crew.

Cooking with care

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For the past three months, a team of MHS West – Central paramedics have donated their time and culinary skills to prepare meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer. The first Wednesday of each month, General Manager John Barry, paramedics Mark, Joanne and Mackenzie, along with Chef Allison, have participated in the House’s ‘Home for Dinner Program’, purchasing and cooking meals for families who are returning from a long day at the hospital. Not only has it made a difference for the families they serve – giving them much-needed time to relax after a stressful day – it’s also been a lot of fun!

Heroes for life

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Grayson and Kian prove that you’re never too young to be a hero.

On November 10th, the seven and 10 year old brothers were settling in to watch an early Saturday morning movie when they noticed their grandmother, Patti, slouched on the couch and not breathing. After checking her pulse and not finding a heartbeat, they knew something was seriously wrong. Unable to reach their parents on the phone, Kian dialed 911 to ask for help.

Kian was quickly connected with MHS West Communications Officer Allison M., who talked the young brothers through the use of CPR. Fortunately, their mother had explained the basics of CPR just this past summer, including how and when to do compressions and how to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The boys ended up making over 400 chest compressions before paramedics Steven H. and John J. arrived to take over the effort to save Patti’s life. After defibrillating her four times, Patti was stabilized and rushed to hospital.

During a special award ceremony on December 4th, Grayson and Kian were recognized for their heroic efforts with MHS West Star Awards. It was an emotional moment for the boys and their grandmother who has called them her “heroes for life.”

You can watch a video of the ceremony and interviews with Grayson and Kian here: https://youtu.be/JFYdxKzjJOg.

Synergy 8

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Across the country, Medavie Health Services employees are continually giving back to their communities. A great example of this is happening in Saskatoon, where Medavie Health Services West’s Andrew Williamson (Deputy Chief of Operations) and Troy Davies (Director of Public Affairs) are board members with a non-profit group called Synergy 8 Community Builders. The group is made up of nine Board members that has eight foundational beliefs of giving back to their community. This year marked a special year, with the group celebrating 10 years of success and being recognized by the Premier of Saskatchewan with the Premiers Service Club Award. Over the past ten years, Synergy 8 has raised $4.45 million for the people and community of Saskatoon, including $1.2 million for MHS West’s Health Bus and its two pediatric ambulances.

This year, Synergy 8 held two major events in Saskatoon that raised over $250,000 specifically for children’s health care in the city. The first was their annual golf/dinner event in August, with current PGA Star Retief Goosen, CBS Sports Announcer Garry McCord, and Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot that saw over 260 golfers and 900 dinner guests raised over $250,000 for a new children’s hospital in Saskatoon.

The other event happened on September 22nd when Synergy 8 was honoured to partner with the Saskatoon Blades, Humboldt Broncos and the Jim Pattison Hospital Foundation for the Saskatoon Blades home opener. This was the first opportunity for all parties to recognize the tragedy that occurred April 6th involving 29 passengers on the Humboldt Broncos bus. The Blades wore specially-designed #togetherstronger jerseys and over 600 first responders from across the province attended the game, including 100 from MHS West. The event raised $50,000, which purchased a new pediatric isolate for the Humboldt Hospital.

Raising the roof in Saskatoon

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Everyone deserves a safe, comfortable and affordable place to call home. That’s the goal of Habitat for Humanity and the motivation for the team from the Medavie Health Services West communications centre that recently took part in a Habitat for Humanity build in Saskatoon. The all-female crew braved unusually cold temperatures on Saturday, September 29th to help build six homes for Saskatoon families as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. They not only donated their time but also close to $2,000 they raised to support Habitat for Humanity Saskatoon!