Paramedic Profession Always Changing
NOTE: The following is part of a series of profiles of paramedics in the province. For more information including photos and audio go to http://gov.ns.ca/health/ehs/paramedics/stories.asp .
A ride in his uncle's ambulance at age 15 got Tim Bayers hooked on paramedicine.
Now he's the operations manager for the western region Emergency Health Services. He said his profession has changed, and grown substantially over the past 28 years.
"Back in the early days, the funeral home provided the ambulance service because they had the only type of vehicle that could transport somebody," he said. "Then it was more about transportation to the hospital than taking care of the sick and injured."
When the switch was made from providing emergency transportation to the hospital to emergency medical care and emergency medical response, Mr. Bayers, along with his other paramedicine colleagues were required to upgrade their training.
"When I first started all you needed was a CPR card and a basic first aid course," he explained. "Now we're multi-functional and multi-level paramedics that take one to three plus years of training through colleges that are accredited through the Canadian Medical Association.
"No one on an ambulance now in the province can work unless they've obtained at least the primary care paramedic level."
In 2003, Tim went back to school to formally upgrade his training and education to become an advanced care paramedic. It was a two year program that he took through distance education, every other weekend and two evenings every other week, so that he could study while maintaining his full-time supervisory role. In addition to the heavy course load, homework and classroom time, he also needed to complete 1,000 hours of clinical training before graduation.
"Training involved riding along with another advanced care paramedic and learning their skills as well as spending time in emergency rooms and operating rooms learning advanced airway techniques. We even spent time covering mental health, obstetrics and respiratory therapy. It was intensive."
Paramedics care for the needs of their entire community and the field continues to shift and grow to reflect the requirements of Nova Scotia's population as well as the needs of the health care system. As the province continues to improve health care and health outcomes for Nova Scotian's, paramedics advance their profession by providing the necessary care to meet these needs.
"We need to partner with other primary health care providers, the doctors, the nurse practitioners, to help provide better care," explained Mr. Bayers. "In the community care program on Long and Brier Islands, we go out and make house calls, draw blood and help to make sure seniors are staying safe in their own homes. We have the ability to assist more and more."
Mr. Bayers said one of the most rewarding parts of living and working in the same community is making a difference.
"I've had grandchildren show up at our base with a thank you card and a box of chocolates for my partner and I in the shape of a heart as a thank you for saving their grampy."