115 ONTARIO PARAMEDICS RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE IN PARAMEDIC SERVICES
The Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs (OAPC) is concluding its 2019 Annual General Meeting at an Awards Dinner this evening in Windsor where it is recognizing worthy paramedics who have just been awarded the Governor General’s Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal.
The Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal was created in 1994 by the late Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, as a component of the Canadian Honours System. The Award is presented to paramedics who have served for at least twenty years in a meritorious manner, characterized by the highest standards of good conduct, industry and efficiency.
To qualify, at least ten of these years of service must have been street level (or air) duty involving potential risk to the individual. Nominees must have been employees on or after October 31, 1991, but may now be active, retired or deceased. Since the Award’s inception, there have been approximately 2,100 Ontario recipients of the Medal.
Richard Bennett, a devoted paramedic here in Sault Ste. Marie, was chosen as one of this year’s recipients of the Governor General’s Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medals. Having personally been touched by Richard’s kindness, caring and generous nature, not to mention passion for our Community over the years, I was ecstatic to learn of this amazing news! Nothing puts a smile on your face quicker than to learn that someone so deserving has been recognized with such a prestigious award.
I reached out to Richard earlier today, where he is currently training down in Southern Ontario. “It means a lot that we are recognized for the things we do, but it’s not just an award for ourselves. My family has also been there all along the way, missing outings, holidays all because of our commitment to service above self.”
Richard started on his path back in highschool when he had the opportunity to participate in a co-op placement with the local ambulance service, back then operating as Sault-Algoma Ambulance. He clearly recalls to this day, his first life-saving experience. “On my 3rd day I was able to do CPR and the person was revived by the time we arrived at the Plummer Hospital ER. Seventeen years old and already had a save under my belt… I was hooked!”, he went on to tell me. Richard completed that semester working with multiple crews, exposed to a wide variety of experiences, “in every imaginable way”.
In 1993, Richard attended Humber College where he enrolled in the Ambulance and Emergency Care program. He graduated and wrote his provincial certification just after a hiring freeze hit the province. Soon afterwards, he was able to land a job as an ambulance dispatcher back here in Sault Ste. Marie where after three years it led to his first paramedic job in Blind River.
Richard later went on to work air ambulance, as well as land, in Sudbury before an opportunity came along which allowed him to return to the Sault in 2002 to continue his passions back in his hometown. In addition to helping others in his role as a paramedic, Richard has always been very active in the Community, volunteering for a number of activities such as the Paramedics Helping the Hungry Food Drive charity event and their softball game vs. the Taps team.
“Many things have changed since my first days as a then ‘Ambulance Attendant’ to what we are now Paramedics. I’ve had the pleasure to enter so many people’s lives in some of their darkest days and make a difference. That is truly what drives Paramedics to keep doing what we do.”, said Richard. “With the reality that only 4% of Paramedics make it to retirement, this 20 year medal means so much to me. I’d also like to take the opportunity to congratulate the other medal recipients this year.”
Congratulations Richard, and the other 114 recipients of this years awards, for everything you do to touch so many of our lives!