Supporting North Peace Secondary School in a Paramedic Career Path Opportunity

Dr. Holmes Presenting at North Peace Secondary SchoolThere is a significant shortage of local paramedics working in both the public and private sector in rural, northern, and remote areas of British Columbia. Iridia Medical is looking to address this ongoing challenge by supporting training and mentoring for a cohort of Grade 12 work experience students from North Peace Secondary School interested in a career as a paramedic or other health care profession. This initiative represents one of several ways Iridians continue to act upon our key value of social responsibility.

Iridia works in several remote areas with resource companies in northeast B.C. to provide an industry-leading level of medical care. We employ paramedics and Occupational First Aid Attendants (Level 3 or OFA3s for short), provide them with 24-hour access to on-call emergency physicians for further expertise, and deploy them to large remote work camps.

Iridia is also committed to hiring paramedics and OFA3s from the communities where we work. However, many of the surrounding small towns and villages near our remote operations suffer from a shortage of trained personnel. Paramedic and OFA3 expertise is not only needed by us, but also by B.C. Ambulance Stations and other industrial projects.

To address this gap, we are working with the District Principal of Careers at North Peace Secondary School (NPSS), Mr. Brian Campbell, to implement an innovative program to help guide Grade 12 students through the process of becoming fully licensed paramedics.

Dubbed the Paramedic Career Path (PCP), the initial phase of this innovative initiative is getting set to launch. A group of six to eight Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students will be selected and then trained to become job-ready OFAs. Once students are qualified as OFAs and complete a number of additional safety courses, they will be paired with, and directly supervised by, one of our Iridia paramedics in the field. They will not only have the chance to provide real-life patient care in a safe environment but also gain invaluable mentoring experience.

Shell, Progress Energy, and Viper Innovation have generously provided grant money for a number of safety training initiatives in School District #60, including the OFA training for the Paramedic Career Path initiative. A second phase of the program will then support OFA3’s to further their skills to become Emergency Medical Responders and eventually Primary Care Paramedics, in collaboration with B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS).

The program will start in Fort St. John with plans to expand to both Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek high schools. To kick off, Dr. Holmes, Iridia’s Founder, travelled to Fort St. John to provide two sessions for close to forty Grade 12 students from both Transition to Trades and academic track students. Accompanying him were Rick Loukes, BCAS Superintendent, and Makayla McLeod, Iridia’s Assistant Paramedic Coordinator. These introductory sessions included a question-and-answer session with hands-on stations set up for students to practice CPR on the Iridia SmartMan manikin, learn how to use an Automated External Defibrillator, and complete an ambulance walkthrough. The presentation was very well received with a number of students anxiously looking forward to being involved in the program. Stay tuned!

Rick Loukes Teaching FSJ Students Makayla Training Students Rick Loukes Showing Students AED Electrodes Dr. Holmes Teaching Student CPR on SmartMan

Life as a Remote Paramedic

remote paramedic

Mark Crighton: Life as a Remote Paramedic

I’m not going to lie to you, my career as a remote paramedic with Iridia started with the intention of making a “few quick bucks”. I was interested in going up north to work for a little while. I talked to a few guys around the BCAS station and they said Iridia was the company to work for… that was 3 years ago.

I discovered many things while working with Iridia and my career path completely changed. I learned about unbelievable teamwork, exceptional support, and being part of a team where my voice and opinions actually count. It was such a relief to finally be working in a positive environment, where like-minded individuals work towards common goals.

A great part of being a remote paramedic is the adventure. This career had enabled me to see and experience many things that I would never have discovered on my own – from urban adventures to remote wilderness and everything in between. Sometimes just getting to the job site is half the adventure. Making my way through many airports and passing through different towns and cities, all the way keeping an eye out for the closest Starbucks.

remote medical services

The isolation of remote site work is a completely new experience. It becomes a different kind of paramedicine out there in the wilderness. You have a lot more responsibility than you do on the streets – the hospital isn’t a mere ten minutes away. At one of the northern camps, we have added the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) to the site which has been a very positive experience. Getting to work one on one with a physician has really allowed me to use some skills long forgotten.

I do a lot of prevention education with the crews on the sites, but compared to working on the street there’s more down time. I spend a lot of this time training for races in the camp gym, reading, studying. But it’s still very hard to be away from my family, friends, home, and the beach where I surf. The one thing I am truly blessed with is a very understanding and supportive wife and family, which makes the absence from home a lot more tolerable and coming home that much more special.

British Columbia wildlife

In my opinion one of the greatest bonuses about working in remote areas is the opportunity to see some amazing animals. I have seen animals that most people haven’t seen in zoos. Sightings  from wild buffalo and bears up close (see Iridia’s YouTube page for an amazing bear video ), moose, fox, and others – not to mention wolverines that are not afraid of people and seem to think a MTC is a great spot to hide under regardless of whether or not you need to go get dinner!

There are so many amazing things related to the work, all you need is a little sense of adventure! Working with the team at Iridia has been such a positive experience for me, and I look forward to growing with the team well into the future.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post!

Mark Crighton
Remote Paramedic with Iridia