It’s every reporter’s job to put first responders in the news. If the local fire department saves a house from burning down, that story will include a quote from the fire fighter in charge of that scene — and hopefully a gripping photo or two. The same goes for when police take down bad guys.
But when there’s a hellish car crash and paramedics airlift an injured motorist to hospital, their perspective very rarely makes it into print. There are good reasons for this:
As a rule, paramedics are not inclined to talk to the media. Firstly, they’re too busy saving lives. Even if they had the time, there are any number of privacy issues that get between what a reporter sees at a medical emergency and what medical officials will confirm. No one who’s been at the scene of a bad accident would ever want to change that.
But the new unit chief at Boundary Hospital’s Station 408 wants Grand Forks to know more about what paramedics do for their communities. As the public face of “Team 408,” Jamie Grant will never tell The Gazette that you’ve broken your hip in a car wreck; that your son or daughter died of an overdose; or even that a man or a woman was taken to hospital in an ambulance helicopter. (He’ll confirm that a patient was med-evac’d to hospital in stable condition, but not much more than that).
That said, he wants you to know that Grand Forks’ paramedics work for the BC Emergency Health Services (BC EHS, more commonly known as the BC Ambulance Service). “But, we’re not ambulance drivers,” he said, explaining that paramedicine is a highly specialized field unto itself.
Paramedics will take you away in an ambulance if you’re seriously hurt, but their role is to take primary care of you until you get to the hospital. And they do it because that’s what gets them out of bed in the mornings.
“I often describe my job as going on an adventure with my buddies,” he explained. And by “buddies,” he meant his patients as well as his co-workers.
“On any given day, we’re going to help somebody in the community that we know and that we care about, or we’ll help somebody that we’ll come to know and we’ll form a relationship there,” Grant said in an interview. It bears repeating that whatever happens between a paramedic and a patient will stay private.
“People call us at literally the worst moments of their lives,” he explained. The media doesn’t get a front-row seat when that happens, he said.
What can and should be made public is that, “We’re out there, every day, providing people anything from Narcan (used to treat opioid overdoses) to chest compressions (CPR) to empathy.”
Grant said that he still attends calls now that he’s unit chief, and his mindset can’t be radically different from how other paramedics approach the job. “At any given scene, I ask myself, ‘how can I help this person?’ whether it’s your grandma who’s slipped in the bathtub or it’s someone suffering from the disease of addiction who’s taken too much.”
His team consists of 14 paramedics, eight of whom will soon be employed full-time. He advocates for their needs and he hopes to do that until he retires in Grand Forks with his wife and two dogs, Bella and Atlas.
“We want to stay here forever and a day,” he said.
Grant took over Station 408 in February.
For more information about paramedicine, consult BC EHS’s Careers website at bcehs.ca/careers