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Paramedicine: the Diversity of the Profession

Have you ever wondered how someone progresses in their journey as a paramedic? Read more to find out.
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​A career in BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) often begins as an emergency medical responder (EMR), particularly in rural and remote areas. Meet Abigail Phillips and Emma Hobenshield, two EMRs in Smithers and Hazelton, who both enjoy the diversity of work in a small community. 

Abigail Philllips, EMR - Smithers

“Being a woman in paramedicine helps break down some of the stereotypes and barriers,” says Abigail adding that women bring a unique perspective and skill to the job to help build trust and understanding within the community.

Emma Hobenshield, EMR - Hazelton

Emma especially enjoys working with colleagues from all different backgrounds and cultures. “I find it rewarding to learn from my colleagues who have been in the service for many years.”

Primary Care Paramedic (PCP), Robin Long, began her career as a Community Health Worker before becoming an EMR in Sayward. In Chemainus, she took the part-time PCP program and once qualified, began working as a PCP in Nanaimo. She hopes to do more training to become a Community Paramedic in Lake Cowichan.

Robin Long, PCP, Nanaimo (second from right) with Mike Adams, PCP, Nanaimo.jpg

“From time to time I am invited to work on the plane based out of the Nanaimo airport and I absolutely love the experience of helping others while travelling around the province,” says Robin (second from the right in the photo).

Matt Poirier, PCP - Boston Bar

“No day is the same and no call is the same,” says Matt Poirier, a Primary Care Paramedic in Boston Bar. “Every day I work with a diverse group of people who bring a wide range of skills to the table. Listening to patients and their stories really opens my eyes to life lessons - leading to a successful career in BCEHS. Learning from both the positive and negative sides of this job is the key to growing and helping my patients to the best of my abilities,” he says.

Virginia Burgess, ACP - Victoria
Virginia Burgess, an Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) in Victoria agrees. “I can never tell for sure what situation I may walk into on the next call. We get to meet people from all walks of life, we get to see places we would otherwise never ever set foot in, and we have the opportunity to work with and alongside many different agencies and professions. Boring is not a word I would ever use to describe work!”

“At the same time, health is also a big equalizer and a generous reminder that we all have more in common than what sets us apart,” adds Virginia, who also speaks German and Spanish. “I have witnessed many otherwise difficult and tragic situations turn into an opportunity which brings out the best in people. “You see strangers, neighbours, family and friends stand up and shine in ways they never knew they could.”

Catherine Malette, Paramedic Practice Educator, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky Districts

In her career with BCEHS, Catherine Malette has been a PCP, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, ACP, Critical Care Paramedic, and member of the Infant Transport Team. 

Now she’s in an entirely different role: “As a Paramedic Practice Educator, I am called to help develop and deliver learning opportunities to paramedics in B.C. My role also includes supporting staff returning to work, ensuring they are up to date in their clinical practice. And lastly, we are also responsible for assisting paramedics in their day-to-day work, providing them with field support learning support opportunities.”

Lyndsay Kay - First Responder Services Manager

As a First Responder Services Manager, Lyndsay Kay helps communities start their own First Responder services. She liaises with First Responder agencies and area managers to address various issues. While travelling to different communities across the province, Lyndsay is also able to respond to ambulance calls.

After working as a paramedic and unit chief for many years, John Warren, took on an entirely different role with BCEHS: as an Indigenous Patient Navigator in the Interior Districts East.

John Warren, Indigenous Patient Navigator - Interior Districts East.jpg

Reflecting on his career in paramedicine, he says: “I have had moments of struggle and moments of enlightenment sometimes in the same 30 seconds. It’s an occupation that has taxed me in every way and then some. When at my best, I maintained a deep sense of curiosity about people and how best to assist them in their time of need. 

Two great joys for me are the act of problem solving in new ways every day. The other has been the autonomy to solve problems in the most practical way, working as a small team of patient, partner, family, and other responders to do what makes sense in the moment.” 

Anyone interested in working with BCEHS can start their journey at
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