Some of Parkland Ambulance’s longest serving members received recognition for their decades of service during a special ceremony in Regina on Tuesday.
The Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan presented Exemplary Service Medals and Star of Life Awards to Emergency Medical Services professionals at Government House in Regina. Parkland Ambulance CEO Trevor Dutchak was recognized for 30 years of service and staff members Nick Thorimbert, Sherri Morrison and Jill Stefanick were recognized for 20 years of service.
Dutchak, whose family founded Parkland Ambulance, said receiving the award made him think of all of the changes in the field.
“Being 30 years actively in the business it was a real eye opener to see how far we have come and how much the company has changed,” he explained. “(With) technology and what paramedics can do now compared to when I started 30 years ago, it’s like we bring the emergency department and the ICU to your house.
“Just to see what our teams do day in and day out is just amazes me. It is just very exciting to be a part of.”
Trevor said the Dutchak family became involved because they wanted to give back.
“Our family has always been wanting to help people and to be a part of the community and being a paramedic is certainly something that lends to that,” he explained. “You’re being a part of the community. You are giving back to your community and you are helping people in need.”
The Dutchak family is entering their 48th year in business after starting in 1974.
“It’s crazy just how time goes,” Trevor said. “Our oldest son is actually in paramedic school right now so if he does follow through that could be fourth generation of family in the business. It’s exciting times,”
The Governor General’s EMS Exemplary Service Medal is Canada’s highest honour for paramedics. The Medal and subsequent bars recognize 20, 30, and 40 years of service in responding to pre-hospital emergencies in Canada.
Morrison is an Advanced Care Paramedic who began in a smaller rural service, like so many paramedic professionals have, before joining Parkland Ambulance Care Ltd. in Prince Albert. Morrison said the time has flown by.
“It was pretty astounding, I guess, that I have been in this career so long,” he said. “I don’t feel that I have been doing it this long.”
She came to the career almost by accident when she entered post-secondary. She originally planned to study sports physiotherapy, but that soon changed.
“I just kind of ventured off and thought, ‘I am going to try EMS’ and my first day in class I thought, ‘yep, this is for me. I am going to become a paramedic,’” she explained. “That is how it started and it just continues every day. I just really like helping people and I love the physiology component and the science of it.”
Morrison said she wouldn’t have stayed in the job unless she liked it. She added that if you find a job you love, you are not working
“Every day is rewarding and challenging but it’s also the people that you work with, the staff and the company that you work with, that also makes or breaks it, and this company and the staff there is none like it,” Morrison said.
“That also adds to the enjoyment and support and the fulfillment.”
Stefanick’s career started in Biggar in 2001 where after a year and a half, she joined Parkland Ambulance Care Ltd. in Prince Albert. Currently she is the Communications Supervisor for the Medical Communications Coordination Center North where she is tasked with many roles and fulfills these opportunities with dedication and enthusiasm.
“I think it was wonderful to be recognized by my peers,” Stefanick said.
Like many of her peers, Stefanick got into the career to make a difference and help people. Like Morrison, she said the great group of co-workers helped keep things running smoothly.
“We get to work with some of the most amazing paramedics and communications specialists in the province,” she said. “Every day we are able to help people and just make a positive difference for our patients and their families.”
Thorimbert is an exceptional leader within Parkland Ambulance Care Ltd. Starting in 2001, he is now a team leader, shift supervisor and Advanced Care Paramedic. Thorimbert has also recently been added as a director for Parkland.
“It means a lot to me because I know that they don’t just give them out to everybody,” he said. “I know the requirements are you need to be on the street for 10 years and that was the minimum requirement. I had no idea that was something coming my way. It means a lot because I have been in this industry for so long. It means a lot and I don’t take it lightly that’s for sure.”
In 2021, Nick was voted Employee of the Year by his peers with his peers commenting that he is a consistent leader, fair to everyone, and goes the extra “inch” to make sure the little things are always covered around the base.
He explained that he got into the business before 9/11 in July and the business has changed.
“It was just one of those things where I just wanted to help people,” he remembered. “I lived in Prince Albert. I would see the ambulances going by and it just motivated me that I want to try that out. I tried it, went to EMT School, it wasn’t Primary Care like it is now, it has changed a lot in 20 years.”
One reason he likes the job is that he never knows what the day may bring.
“I started as an EMT here and worked my way up to Advanced Care Paramedic and now the new Director spot. It’s an industry like other emergency services where every day is different. You don’t know what call you are going to, what day you are going to have, and that’s interesting. It makes it exciting too.”
Thorimbert said that lack of familiarity is what provides paramedics with a challenge.
“That’s what makes it exciting, but again it’s only for certain people,” he said. “There are people who always come up to us (and ask,) ‘how can you do this? How can you do this as a job?’ It is just one of those things where you have got to love your job.
“I’m proud to be a paramedic, proud to be nominated and get this award.”