September 30th 2021 was the last day that Dr Rick Verbeek worked as the Medical Director for Toronto Paramedics before he retired. Dr Verbeek was an extremely well liked and respected physician and Medical Director. We will miss his steady presence, support, and guidance, as we all wish him the best in this next chapter of his life. Below is an open letter to Paramedics from Dr Rick Verbeek
‘On my last day as Medical Director I am writing to say thank you to Toronto paramedics for all the support you have given me. Having been medical director for 25 years, I have had the pleasure of being associated with literally thousands of paramedics. I have worked with you in the Emergency Department, on the streets, in the classroom and on committees galore! All these with a razor-sharp focus – to provide the best patient care possible and to support paramedics and promote the profession to the best of my abilities.
I have said many times that as much as I enjoyed my clinical work in the ED, what really inspired me was my relationship with paramedics. Why? – because I learned, almost daily it seems, how powerful it was to leverage our common patient care goals as a team of over 1000 individuals dedicated to the pursuit of clinical excellence.
Paramedics – you – make a difference to patients’ lives. I am constantly in awe of the work you do, in the environment that you do it and how you manage the do the impossible day-in and day-out. The “stories” that I hear sometimes just make me shake my head thinking “how did those paramedics manage to do all of that in such challenging circumstances, in such a short period of time and with such clinical expertise and poise”.
Thank you for embracing the clinical science of paramedicine. Collectively we have spent tens of thousands of hours trying out new ideas and where justified have changed our practice for the better. As important, we have been able to share our experience globally and provided the impetus for others to adopt the new knowledge that we discovered together.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of serving alongside several Paramedic Service Chiefs including Chief Ron Kelusky, Chief Bruce Farr, Chief Paul Raftis and Acting Chief Gord McEachen. Their guidance and support has been greatly appreciated and through them I learned that we are strongest when we pull together. It is said in the EMS world that because they are all so unique, “when you have seen one Paramedic Service you have seen just one Paramedic Service”. While Toronto Paramedic Service may be just one service, it is also one of the best made that way by its leadership, medical dispatchers, support staff and in my books, by its paramedics.
In the coming years, I look forward to monitoring the pulse of the ongoing evolution of paramedicine. I am sure it will be strong and steady. Your future is bright. It has been a pleasure and a humbling experience for me to be your medical director. More important, it has been an honour to have had you as colleagues.
Yours most sincerely, Dr. Richard Verbeek, MD, FRCPC. Medical Director, Toronto Paramedic Services Paramedic Programs. Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine’
Celebrating 25 years of Tactical Paramedics in Toronto
2021 marks 25 years that Toronto Paramedics have been the leaders in first developing and running a Tactical Paramedic program. Our Tactical Medics work alongside Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force (ETF) officers, to provide medical support and treatment to any potential patients they encounter on the calls they attend together. Being a Tactical medic requires very specialized training alongside their ETF team, and there is a rigorous physical testing component to qualify to be on the team. The partnerships of police and paramedics on numerous teams have proven to be very successful in Toronto and both patients and staff have benefited from these specialized programs. We salute all our Toronto Tactical medics, past and present, for their all their contributions to this program.
Public Relations and Political Engagement
The pandemic has taken a very large toll on all our members and their families. And while much of the ‘visible’/in person work (such as events, media etc) that the Association does for our members has not been possible due to Covid, the Toronto Paramedic Association board has been very hard at work alongside our government relations team to build and strengthen our relationships with government as well as allied services. We have been meeting with allied associations such as the Toronto Police Association, as well as leaders in hospital/health care delivery on such issues as mental health, TPA member support and public awareness. We have been engaged in a large amount of strategic planning to build our ‘brand’ and to ensure the professional roles and responsibilities of Toronto Paramedics are fully understood and appreciated by all levels of government and health care providers. And we are actively planning a very exciting multimedia PR/PSA project that will further highlight the extremely important role our members play on the front lines every day.
TPA Members Dedication and Professionalism
The ongoing pandemic has been an unprecedented time for our profession. The TPA would like to thank our members for your amazing dedication and strength in the face of all the extreme challenges you have faced and are still facing as front-line healthcare professionals. Your commitment to your patients is unwavering and your Association is here for you – please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any feedback or suggestions of how we can support you.