Hard work, big rewards
It’s not a predictable job but that’s part of what makes it interesting. “You never know what you’re going to experience from day to day. The variety comes from the uncertainty of what we deal with and the environments we work in. In Calgary, we could be at 30 degrees Celsius and have to fly into the mountains and end up at a high altitude where it’s zero degrees. Also, we’re working under a running helicopter, so one of the challenges is the exposure to the elements, not to mention the patient’s exposure – trying to keep them warm in a time critical circumstance, where cold is actually bad for them. The best part is being able to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people. Seeing those survivors validates the hard work we’ve put in and keeps us motivated.”
For the vast majority of missions, the two-person medical crew is activated through the Emergency Link Centre and, with the captain and co-pilot, are airborne within eight minutes. A swift routine follows: talking to the ground providers to get an update on the patient’s status, landing at the scene, getting a report handover from the EMS crew or helping if there’s an extrication. A paramedic may then spend up to half an hour at the scene performing critical care management of the patient before heading to the nearest trauma centre or hospital.