Interview: Lyle Blumhagen

Interview: Lyle Blumhagen

Lyle Blumhagen has been the owner of Canadian Paramedicine for the last 30 years. He is now handing over the magazine to Gilbert Maraboto, an ACP of Wakaw, Saskatchewan. Gilbert will carry on with the important work he has done for the Paramedicine Community and to continue publishing this magazine. Gil has been a paramedic for over 20 years and holds a B. Sc. in Physics.

Lyle first began as an editor in a farming magazine and transferred to Canadian Emergency Services News in 1989. He soon after became the owner and publisher in September 1990.

Throughout his 30 year tenure, he changed the name to Canadian Paramedicine, broadened the magazine’s reach to countries like Ireland and Australia, and helped develop a much deeper understanding for Paramedicine nationwide.

We had the privilege of interviewing Lyle and ask him some questions about his time at the magazine, his projects and his future.

How did you first hear about Canadian Paramedicine, and what got you interested in running it?

I was working as the editor of a farming magazine for the same company that owned Canadian Emergency News as it was known at that time. It looked like an extremely interesting magazine to work on, so when the editor’s position became open I transferred from the agricultural magazine to Canadian Emergency News.

Note: The magazine began life as Canadian Emergency Services News, changed to Canadian Emergency News in 1989, and became Canadian Paramedicine in 2011.

What were your most significant challenges during your ownership of the magazine?

There were many challenges, but the one that was woven into every other challenge was uniting the parochial interests and agendas of the various provinces, and trying to bring everyone together onto the same playing field. That obstacle applied to everything from training standards and accreditation to operating systems models, pay scales and equipment standards.

What are your most significant accomplishments with the magazine?

I feel giving paramedics a magazine that served as their professional voice was the greatest achievement of the magazine during my time as publisher.

The magazine was also instrumental in helping raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the need for practitioners to engage in Critical Incident Stress Management, which is something else I’m proud of.

Similarly, the magazine helped promote awareness and development of Community Paramedicine, which I think is key to the development of the professional and health care in general.

The final detail I see as a great accomplishment may seem trivial, but I think it’s very important. It’s the adoption of ‘Paramedic’ and ‘Paramedicine’ as the defining terms for the profession. Before Paramedic and Paramedicine became the accepted standard names practitioners in every province had their own alphabet soup of professional titles, which served only to confuse the public, politicians and the media. The magazine was an early adopter of the universal use of those terms, and it was the reason behind the name change to Canadian Paramedicine in 2011.

Will you miss it?

I will naturally miss the magazine. It was a labour of love to 30 years. I met countless wonderful people from all over the planet as a result of the magazine and I was part of helping bringing about positive change within the profession, and by extension for the general public. However, I had taken the magazine as far as I could and my gas tank was on Empty. It’s time for someone new with a full tank of energy and ideas to take the magazine into the future.

How have you always envisioned the magazine in the future?

The one area of growth I thought the magazine should explore is using the current electronic publishing tools to develop a global electronic paramedicine publication. Canada is a world leader in paramedicine along with Australia, the UK and the USA. I peg Canada as high as second in that group. As a global leader in paramedicine, practitioners from around the world look to us for ideas and leadership. Not only can Canada help lead in areas such as research, education, accreditation and so on, but I think having to overcome the regional divides and parochialism that leaders faced in driving the development of the profession forward in Canada gives Canadian leaders the experience to do the same on a global stage.

Are there any projects that you did not do that you wish the new administration would take on?

Well, first and foremost, the international electronic publication I outlined above. There’s also a need for a peer reviewed academic publication in Canada. There are numerous factors to consider with such a publication, but I’ve always felt there’s an opportunity for Canadian Paramedicine to work in partnership with the appropriate stakeholder group to develop a sister publication that would meet this need.

How do you intend to spend your well-deserved retirement?

I intend to spend my retirement working on projects on and around the acreage my wife and I live on. I’m building a greenhouse that I plan on spending lots of time in. Our acreage is situated in the middle of the second richest deposit of dinosaur bones in the world, so there’s always the opportunity to wander the badlands canyons that surround me looking for dinosaur fossils. The Red Deer River runs along the east edge of our yard, so fishing is a constant opportunity. And I like making my wife laugh … so I plan on spending lots of time playing the clown for her benefit.

How do you feel about the new administration?

I very happy to see Gil and his team step forward to take over the magazine and give it a future. I feel their set of skills, being rooted in both paramedicine and publishing, make them ideal candidates to pilot Canadian Paramedicine forward.

Are there any particular people you would like to thank or anything special to say?

It’s tough to single out people I’d like to thank for their support over the past 30 years, but I have to mention a few. First, I appreciate the contributions of everyone who has ever written an article for the magazine and its audience. There are a few people who gave me their support early on, and their support meant a lot to me as they helped give the magazine credibility and helped me develop trust within the profession. So I’d like to especially thank Lynn Klein, Lance Stephenson, Heather Mackenzie-Carey, Kelly Nash, Mike McKeage, Mike Nolan, Becky Donelon, Perry Prete, Eric Glass, Bruce Farr, Andrew Moffat, Chris Hood, Ron Kuban, Cheryl Cameron, Rick Trombley, Alan Batt, Darryl Wilton, Dale Bayliss, Brent Browett and Corey Banks. And of course, all the advertisers and subscribers, without whom the magazine could not operate. Special mention from that group includes Catherine Calkin at Skedco, everyone at Premergency, Jay Mitchoksky, Crestline Coach, Interdev and Ferno, and most of all, the Ontario Paramedic Association. Without their support there would not have been a magazine for all these years. I hate naming names as there are so many more I could and should mention, but the list would soon grow too large. The people and companies I’ve named stand out for their strong support of the magazine, in some cases for many years.