IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
I’m Master Corporal Kristopher Daum from Waterloo, Ontario, and I’m a Medical Technician in the Canadian Forces.
And I’m Corporal Jessica Hewett from Mississauga, Ontario. I’m a Medical Technician serving with 1 Field Ambulance here in Edmonton, Alberta.
DAUM: Medical Technicians are valued and versatile members of the military healthcare team. We work on base, on the battlefield, on board ship and wherever else we’re called upon to support Forces members, both in Canada and abroad.
HEWETT: I get bored easily, I need to be challenged on a consistent basis and being a Med Tech tends to do that. You’re going out with the artillery, the infantry, the engineers. You experience the whole of the Canadian Forces.
DAUM: When you’re deployed, you really have to call upon all your skill sets as a medic, may that be clinical or may that be pre-hospital emergency care. We provide full-spectrum care to all the troops deployed. As a Medical Technician, you have to be at the top of your game.
HEWETT: On base, we work with doctors, nurses and physician assistants to provide acute and chronic healthcare services to Forces members. That means lab work, record-keeping, preventive counselling and administering basic tests to patients.
DAUM: The amount of experience that you’ve gained early on in your career is amazing. And if you compare that to other jobs, say even civilian paramedic, we do so much more in our little amount of time we’ve been on the job.
HEWETT: You have the opportunity to not only potentially save someone’s life, but have a profound impact in their lives. So you can have something as gratifying and large as that as just your everyday satisfaction of doing your job and doing it well.
HEWETT: The dynamic between a Medical Technician and the people you’re caring for is like none other than I’ve ever experienced before. You’re responsible ultimately for their lives, so they look to you for many different things, not just medical. Often, when you’re by yourself out there, you become their Medical Technician. You’re their nurse, their doctor, their social worker, their psychiatrist and kind of everything in between.
DAUM: The best time in my life as a medic has been deployed, may that be working in the unit medical station or out with the troops doing everything that they’re doing: going out on a patrol, doing a recce. Everything that they do, we do as well because as a medic, you’re a soldier first, medic second.
HEWETT: I personally was tasked with the engineers, so I learned a lot of engineering skills while I was overseas that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to experience. So you kind of take on these pseudo-roles while you’re over there that make for a very interesting and exciting experience.
HEWETT: I think a realization of what you’re capable of doing as a Medical Technician comes at a different point for everybody. For me, personally, it was right in the thick of it where you just kinda look back and take a deep breath and be like “You know, this is okay, I got this” and for a lot of other Med Techs, they just kind of instinctively do it and afterwards, they’re like “Whoa, I just did that”.
DAUM: To become a Medical Technician in the Forces, you’re going to go through basic military training just like any other Forces member.
HEWETT: One of the biggest things as a Medical Technician is we always say you’re a soldier first and then a Medical Technician. So we are expected to be familiar with those skills. And then they send us off to Base Borden for a qualification level 3 where we learn everything from starting IVs to basic physical exams to bed baths and basic nursing skills as well.
DAUM: Here at Borden, you’ll also learn how to administer basic medications because that’s something you’ll be doing as part of your scope of practice.
HEWETT: From Borden, you move on to the Paramedic Academy in Chilliwack, B.C., for 16 weeks. When you graduate from Chilliwack, you’ll be certified as a Level One Primary Care Paramedic.
DAUM: Your first posting will be with a healthcare unit on a Canadian Forces base. There, you’ll have 18 months of on-the-job training in which to complete your Maintenance of Clinical Skills Program.
HEWETT: One of the main things that we’re able to do and have the opportunity to do is train with civilian agencies as well. A lot of the time, we go downtown Edmonton and ride on ambulance and just really try to keep up our skills that way.
DAUM: As a medic, you have to be solid in your leadership because you’re leading the troops in the care of casualties. I have to look at the whole situation to make sure that everyone is being taken care of.
HEWETT: It’s really in those first few minutes that determines the outcome of a patient situation. There is training and equipment that we’re provided with that ensures that a casualty gets the absolute best care possible the very first time you see that casualty which is on the front lines.
HEWETT: My calling personally was definitely to contribute to Canada as a whole and I think the best way to serve Canada, for myself, was to help individuals that are also trying their best to serve Canada and keep us a safer country.
DAUM: The friendships that you make in the military are second to none. The people that are my friends in the Army will be my friends for the rest of my life. The things that we’ve been through together or experienced together or the friends that we’ve lost together really make a difference in who you are and it really makes a difference in your career.
HEWETT: The experiences that I’ve gone through thus far have really made me who I am and the Medical Technician that I am and just the person that I am today. And better prepared for anything that comes my way from here on in.
DAUM: I love being a Med Tech and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES