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Extra service - BCEHS reflections on serving in the military

It’s a well-known fact that our paramedics and dispatch staff are dedicated service-providers. But what many may not know is that dozens of BCEHS employees currently serve or have previously served in the military.
Paramedic in honour guard uniform at a shrine to the unknown soldier
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​With Remembrance Day approaching on November 11, we spoke to two of our employees to learn about their experiences.

Greg Trumbley, EMR, Station 761, Fort St. James

Before becoming an emergency medical responder, Greg Trumbley served twelve years in the military as a vehicle technician (heavy duty mechanic) in The Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, a branch of the Canadian Armed Forces.  

Solider in camouflage and helmet“It was incredibly rewarding. There was a lot I got from the military at the time. Serving in the post-9/11 world, it had a very real feeling to it. There was a real purpose,” says Trumbley, who joined at the age of 18.

During his service in Edmonton and Saskatchewan, Trumbley achieved one specialized qualification for the Leopard 2 Main battle tank. “It was incredibly hard work, with terrible hours, but those were some of the best experiences that I have ever had,” he remembers.

In 2016-2017, Trumbley was deployed to Poland. “It was an incredible opportunity to work with other NATO partner nations and to put your training and skill set to use and see the results of your work, which really ties into pre-hospital care,” he says.

Paramedic Greg Trumbley next to an ambulanceIn November 2021, Trumbley joined BCEHS, following the career path of his mother and father, both of whom are paramedics. As an EMR, he sees many parallels to his current role in Fort St. James. “A lot of practical things I learned in the military are very applicable to the paramedic lifestyle such as eating and sleeping at all hours.”
“In both fields, you have to be in this place of constantly learning and adapting to what’s going around you. It’s very fast paced. Things you learn yesterday, you can apply to your next call.”  

Trumbley encourages others to serve. “There is a deep element of family and teamwork that comes from the military that I have found that translates well to BCEHS. Everybody gets a unique experience and a unique set of tools for their toolbox from their service.”

Now a father of three, Trumbley says he would consider a role in the military reserve sometime in the future. 

Catharina Goossen, Off Car Unit Chief, Station 340 in Kelowna

Catharina Goossen is commanding officer of the 259 Panther Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Penticton. As a cadet instructor cadre (CIC) officer with the Canadian Forces Reserve, she trains youth aged 12 to 18 to become leaders in the Air Cadet program. 

Catharina Goossen in military uniform with a young female cadet“I oversee the cadets and literally teach the cadets how to teach themselves. We show them leadership qualities, and they go through interviews and field survival skill training. With Air Cadets, they can also earn their glider pilot, or the power pilot licences throughout the cadet program,” she adds.

Goossen says it is rewarding to watch shy youngsters grow and become youth leaders by the age of 16 in the program. “They apply for jobs and those type of things. We teach them marksmanship and effective speaking. The biggest thing is having them come back and go into military or civilian jobs.” 

The program also helps with BCEHS recruitment: “I’ve actually have had cadets who I have taught become paramedics – one just joined in Quesnel. It’s surprising how many cadets come through the system to become paramedics or go through fleet (operations). The Air Cadet program definitely teaches them time management and leadership qualities.”

Catharina Goossen in paramedic honour guard uniform at a shrine to the unknown soldierGoossen says teaching Air Cadets allows her to step away from being a paramedic and interact with the public in a different way. “It gives me a mental health break and allows me to see some of the positives of being in the community.”

November is particularly busy for Goossen, who is also a member of the BC Ambulance Service Provincial Honour Guard. Despite her busy schedule as a paramedic, Goossen finds the time to teach once or twice a week. She encourages others to volunteer or become a training officer with the program, noting that she became an instructor after her own children joined the program.
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