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‘Most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,’ says Sault paramedic

Sault Ste. Marie EMS paramedics are the subject of this week’s Mid-Week Mugging
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Sault EMS paramedics Dave Giulietti and Jeffrey Orr with their complimentary SooToday mugs, Jan. 28, 2019. Darren Taylor/SooToday

There are over 60 paramedics (don’t call them ambulance drivers!) working for Sault Ste. Marie Emergency Medical Services (EMS), but we dropped in to their base on Old Garden River Road and picked two of them to receive complimentary SooToday coffee mugs as a sign of our appreciation for the whole team.

Dave Giulietti, a Sault native who has been a paramedic for six years, told us “it’s a very dynamic job.”

Jeffrey Orr, a Sturgeon Falls native who has been a Sault paramedic for 27 years, said “I would totally recommend it as a career.”

When asked what inspired them to become paramedics, Dave replied “we get to do and see a lot of different things. We get to interact with a lot of great people.”

“I think the big thing for a lot of us is each day is a different experience. It’s never the same, so I think that’s what attracted me to the job. We get to be outside, we get to talk to all sorts of people, and we get to help people, which is what we really enjoy, helping people in times of need.”

Paramedics, of course, witness many sad incidents, involving death or serious near-death injuries or illness, but keeping it on the bright side, Dave said “every day we get to do something positive or exciting or new.”

“We get to bring someone’s grandmother, for example, to the hospital, and if I can put a smile on her face for even a couple of minutes in a time of need, then I’ve done my job. That is really rewarding.”

“We represent something positive. We’re coming to help, and for people to see that and react to that, to see their faces light up when the paramedics get there, is a really cool feeling,” Dave said.

What inspired Jeffrey to enter the heroic paramedic profession?

“The ‘Emergency!’ TV show,” he replied without hesitation.

Those of us who were children when that show, which aired on NBC from 1972 to 1977, will recall our eyes being glued to the TV set watching Los Angeles Squad 51 paramedics Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto (portrayed by actors Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe) racing to emergencies in their red rescue truck and saving lives.

“It was also my dad who inspired me,” Jeffrey said.

“He was a family physician and I had some interactions with ambulance attendants (the title for paramedics at one time) in my hometown, befriended some of them, got interested in the job and followed through with it.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of delivering two babies in my career,” Jeffrey recalled.

“The first one was absolutely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It kept me awake for two days because of the excitement, the adrenaline rush.”

“It was super exciting to do that, to bring life to the world, as opposed to dealing with the other end of the spectrum, like death, near death and illness...bringing a new life to the world was the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done,” Jeffrey said.

“(To be a paramedic) you need to be empathetic, you need to maintain professionalism. You need to be physically fit and strong, and mentally strong. If you fit that build, then I would absolutely recommend this,” said Dave, who is also an instructor in the CTS Canadian Career College paramedic training program.

“It’s a very satisfying, gratifying job, ever changing. I can see, in the next few years, paramedicine is going to expand and there are going to be a lot of positive changes,” Jeffrey said.

“It won’t be the old days of ‘load and go’ and get patients to the hospital. We’ll be practicing medicine and helping people get better before they even get to the hospital,” said Jeffrey, looking forward to paramedics being able to do more for patients on the scene.

There are 65 EMS paramedics on the job in the Sault, 44 of which are full time.

“In 2018, they did over 15,000 911 calls. They’re a very busy group. They’re very well educated, very professional, and every day they come to work well prepared and they do their job quite well,” said a justifiably proud Dan Langevin, Sault EMS deputy chief, of his team.