In August, BCEHS reached out to employees asking them to nominate their peers for two provincial awards. In October, the unsuspecting winners were in scheduled meetings when Interim Chief Ambulance Officer Leanne Heppell dropped in to tell them they’d won for their exceptional dedication and leadership.
Deborah Tomich, Unit Chief of Station 405 in Elkford, received the 2021 Tony Sunderland Memorial Plaque. Rick Loucks, Manager of Patient Care Delivery for the North East District, received the 2021 Tom St. Laurent Leadership Memorial Award.
“BCEHS employees go above and beyond the call of duty every day, in so many different ways,” explained Leanne. “I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate Deborah and Rick for their excellent work.” Leanne added that these long-term employees have made a huge impact on their colleagues and the communities they serve.
“I love working with people and love helping my community. The more I help, the better I feel,” says Deborah Tomich, when asked about her favourite part of the job.
The town of Elkford in southeastern B.C. has a population of about 3,000 people, and the closest hospital is around forty-five minutes away. While there are unique challenges to serving a rural community, Tomich wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I pretty well know just about everyone here, and they know me and what I do,” she says.
The Tony Sunderland Memorial Plaque of Pride is awarded to an employee in recognition of their dedication and loyalty to BCEHS and their strong commitment to the needs of communities. The award was created in memory of paramedic Tony Sunderland who worked in the community of Endako B.C. and died of a heart attack while responding to the scene of a car accident in 1988.
Multiple BCEHS employees nominated Tomich in recognition of her dedication and commitment. Tomich is known for picking up extra shifts when needed and acting as a valued mentor for new paramedics.
“When I found out numerous people had nominated me, that was awesome, but I was kind of shocked,” Tomich said. “To everyone who nominated me, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Rick Loucks’ career at BCEHS has taken him to nearly every corner of the province. He started out as a paramedic on Vancouver Island and then worked in Vancouver, before becoming a unit chief, first in Prince Rupert, then in Kimberley, then in Burns Lake. These days, Rick is based in Dawson Creek where he is the manager of Patient Care Delivery for the North East District.
“My job is really about making sure that the crews in my district have the tools and the support they need to do their jobs,” he says. “My favorite part of my job is the people,” Rick says.
Loucks received the Tom St. Laurent Leadership Memorial Award, which recognizes an employee for going above and beyond approach to leadership. It was established in 2018 in honour of Tom St. Laurent, a greatly admired paramedic and leader with more than 30 years dedicated service.
Loucks is highly regarded as a manager because of his tireless dedication as a leader. He’ll show up at calls even when he’s off duty to make sure paramedics have the support they need, and behind the scenes, he always does what he can to advocate for the paramedics in his district.