Hello everyone. Welcome to the Oct./Nov. issue of Canadian Paramedicine. The editorial focus for this issue is Rural and Remote Paramedicine. Full disclosure … this is a topic that is of particular interest and importance to me. I grew up in a very rural East Central Alberta farming community, and after a 20-year hiatus living in Calgary, I’ve been a rural resident again, living in Drumheller, AB for the last 19 years. As such, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing rural paramedicine systems.
The articles in this issue address some of the operational and clinical challenges that are unique to rural services. Dave Libby’s article on page 6 does a great job of capturing the operational challenges rural services face. His article looks at these challenges through the lens of an Ontario service, but he could have just as easily been writing about the problems faced in Alberta, or any other province. Every province has its own unique context, but despite the various differences that create the context for each province, the problems almost always seem to look the same. That’s not specific to just rural practice either.
One challenge that rural paramedics face that isn’t touched on by the articles in this issue is the personal nature of rural practice. Every call a rural paramedic responds to is potentially for a friend or family member. In my view, this is both the most rewarding and the most hazardous aspect of rural practice. It’s rewarding because you are helping your friends, neighbours and loved ones in their time of need. But … I know of two rural paramedics who walked onto a scene blind at which their own child was a fatality. I know another rural paramedic who had to run an unsuccessful code on an immediate family member. Not surprisingly, not one of those paramedics is still active in the profession.
I’m not a very sensitive or emotional person, but those stories break my heart. Calls like those can happen in urban centres as well of course, but the likelihood is far greater in a rural community simply due to the small and tight-knit nature of rural communities. Counseling and support from employers and the profession is grossly inadequate for rural paramedics. More, much more, needs to be done in this area.
I have the utmost respect for rural paramedics, and I thank them for the service they provide their communities at great sacrifice and potential risk to their own well-being.
On a housekeeping note, I would very much like readers to let me know what they think of the electronic edition of Canadian Paramedicine. What do you like or not like? What would you like to see us do that we’re not?