Following a new direction in paramedicine
Jim Madden, an advanced care paramedic with Moose Jaw and District EMS, has seen a lot of trauma and medical calls in his 35-year career. He’s also seen tremendous progress in emergency medical services.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” he says. “I’ve done a lot of upgrading and training over the years, most of it through Saskatchewan Polytechnic. When my deputy chief from Moose Jaw and District EMS took the Community Paramedic program at Sask Polytech, I thought, maybe this is a good opportunity to shift the focus of my career.”
Community Paramedic is an online advanced certificate program that lets primary care paramedics and advance care paramedics build on their mobile care response expertise and apply it to caring for patients in their homes and communities.
The 30-week program focuses on prevention, client education, geriatrics, palliative care, mental health and addictions and chronic disease management. It includes hands-on labs and clinical practice experiences in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities and community clinics.
“This type of paramedicine is going to be great for reaching out to vulnerable populations and providing more preventative care, especially in terms of connecting people to the right resources so they get the services they need in their homes and communities, without having to go through the hospital ER,” Jim says.
“I like the idea of having more interaction and in-depth relationships with patients as a community paramedic.”
As he shifts into a new career phase, Jim reflects back on how he got started. “It’s all because of the television show Emergency!” he says, only half kidding. “I don’t know if anybody still remembers that show; but it was about paramedics in Los Angeles. I watched it a lot as a kid.”
Of course, the fact that his dad worked for an ambulance service in Rosetown also played an important (but less exciting) role. “My dad’s colleagues were always around. They would be doing various courses and I’d get involved—I remember working away on a Resusci Annie in our living room when I was 10. That was my real introduction to EMS.”
Jim followed in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a member of Rosetown’s volunteer fire department and working as an EMT / EMA-1 with the Rosetown Ambulance. After taking his first EMS training at Sask Polytech, he quickly earned his credentials. In today’s terms, he moved from being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) to Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP), and has spent most of his career as an ACP with Moose Jaw and District EMS.
“EMS wasn’t even a career when I started. Since I took my first training at Sask Polytech in the 1980s, it’s evolved into a profession.”
Jim hopes to complete the Community Paramedic program by the end of 2020. Would he recommend the program to other paramedics? “Absolutely. It can be a heavy load when you’re working, but it’s also very accessible because it’s online. That lets you stretch your education while continuing to work,” he says.
“Community Paramedic is a different direction than being a PCP or ACP,” Jim adds, “but at this stage in my career, I’m looking forward to having more of a relationship with patients. I like the idea of being more hands-on, of being able to talk to people and get them connected to the resources and services they need.”
Published March 2020.