Our People. Their Stories. – Doug Pamment, Primary Care Paramedic, Canada’s North
Dec 08, 2022
Every day, Medavie’s team of more than 8,000 professionals work to improve the wellbeing of Canadians. Join us as they share their stories and show how we deliver on our mission and bring our values to life. These are the people who make Medavie what it is today.
TORONTO – He’s stood sentry as a member of the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. He’s engaged in ground combat as an infantryman in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. And When Medavie Health Services put out the call for paramedics who wanted to use their expertise to meet the ongoing medical needs and emergencies of patients in some of the northernmost reaches of our country, Doug Pamment answered.
For the past two years, Doug has been part of a team of paramedics delivering direct patient care and consultation beyond hospital walls across Northern Canada. Doug assists with local health care programs and provides surge capacity response working alongside First Nations and Inuit Health Branch-employed nurses. They serve approximately 30 rural and remote communities, ranging in size from a couple of hundred people to a couple of thousand.
A different model of health care
“It’s been an amazing experience, every second, in these communities,” Doug says, adding “there’s not a boring day” and “nighttime is magical” in reference to the Northern Lights that often dance across the night sky.
Paramedics like Doug are the boots on the ground of an evolving model of mobile integrated health that is helping to support more Canadians in getting the care they need, when and where they need it.
“In the north, whether you stub your toe or have a heart attack, you come to us. It’s head-to-toe care.”
Doug’s work in the north is slightly different from frontline health care in other parts of Canada. Instead of racing to scenes of emergencies with lights flashing and sirens wailing, Doug and other paramedics work closely with local health professionals at community medical clinics to provide a broad spectrum of family medicine services.
“When the patients come to us, we do our assessments. Right from introducing ourselves to finding out what their allergies are and what their chief complaint is and then we spring into action as best as we can.”
Embracing a new comfort zone
When it comes to moving beyond a traditional paramedic role, Doug’s past experiences have provided him with a unique groundwork for expanding his comfort zone—and his skills.
During his combat tours, Doug once spent a night sleeping beside a tank under a blanket of metal armour with temperatures topping thirty-eight degrees Celcius. Another time, he spent the night on the side of an Austrian alp, four metres deep in the snow in minus thirty degrees Celcius, as part of an avalanche simulation exercise.
It was on the battlefield that he became “very inspired” by the work of combat paramedics. So much so that when he left the British Army after two decades of service, he returned to Ontario—where he grew up—and studied to become a paramedic.
A different kind of “normal”
Though he initially struggled as a mature student, being an infantryman had “taught him to be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” an ability he transferred to his career as a paramedic.
His military experiences and life experiences helped him “tremendously” in earning his certification, and he was “hired straight out of school,” giving him his first introduction to health care in Canada’s north. There, he began treating patients onboard fixed wing aircraft with an air medical service transport provider. At same time, he worked for North Bay Regional Health Care Service as a primary care medic. He later became a ground paramedic in Nova Scotia with EHS Operations, managed and operated through Medavie Health Services on behalf of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
As a member of the team on rotation in Canada’s northern communities, Doug and his colleagues can lead trauma case responses. This can occasionally include coordinating an air ambulance in some challenging weather conditions.
Doug recalls the time he set down his pair of gloves for a few minutes after he tended to a patient, only to find the gloves had quickly shattered from the extreme cold.
He remembered thinking: “Oh, I am really far away from normal life right now.”
Doug currently works on two-week rotations, which he can extend to four weeks.
Time off allows him to explore the vast snowy landscape in his backyard and enjoy some of his favourite activities like ice fishing, hiking and snowmobiling.
“For people who enjoy being outside, this is a playground.”
His constant companion is a husky-shepherd mix he adopted during his first assignment in Fort Hope named Nuka (Nookaa), which is Inuit for “little sister.”
Doug has also taken this opportunity to learn about the culture and history of Indigenous Peoples in northern Canada to better understand and relate to his patients, including the legacy of the residential school system.
He has participated in “very powerful” powwows, smudges, a Remembrance march for missing children and survivors of residential schools, a Families Day fest, and an after-school program for youth.
“I’ve learned more about being sympathetic, empathetic, kind and good to one another than anywhere else in the world.”
Bonding and building trust in communities
Muskrat Dam holds a special place in his heart. He has formed strong bonds with residents there, like an elder and residential school survivor he describes as his “adopted grandmother.”
“One of the highest honours of my life was being presented with an eagle feather by the chief of Muskrat Dam.”
The connection he feels to this community is mutual.
“It’s really nice when you see them (the friends he has made) and they say ‘welcome home’. It’s very heartwarming.”
Doug says building trust is key to forming relationships and he has “spent more time listening” to patients during his rotations than “putting on bandages or giving out medications.” He believes there “will always be a need” for paramedics in Canada’s north and he sees his future here. “I’m putting my knowledge to the best use possible — and,” he adds with a grin, “I get to go fishing.”
His advice to anyone thinking of a career in paramedicine? Be flexible and be humble.
Answer the call in Canada’s north
If you are a primary or advanced care paramedic interested in this unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference in Canada’s northern communities, visit medaviehs.com/careers or reach out via email at email@example.com for more information.
Medavie is a national health solutions partner that integrates benefits management, health management and health care delivery. Together, with our team of more than 7,700 professionals, we are committed to improving the wellbeing of Canadians.
As a not-for-profit organization, Medavie oversees Medavie Blue Cross, a premier all-in-one benefits carrier and public health program administrator, and Medavie Health Services, a national primary health care solutions organization and the largest contracted provider of emergency management services in Canada.
We are one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures, one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and an Imagine Canada Caring Company.
We don’t have shareholders. Instead, we proudly invest in communities to help address some of Canada’s most pressing health care challenges.
For further information: Media Contact: Brittany Mitchelmore, Senior Communications Advisor, Brittany.firstname.lastname@example.org, 782.640.3634