It was a great honour for me to be included among those recognized last night for their many years of service in building the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services. CSL EMS turns 50 years old this year. The recognition event and graduation of the current class of new medics took place amid pomp and ceremony Monday night at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall.
The Governor General’s EMS Exemplary Service Medal was presented by Mayor Anthony Housefather, Public Safety Councillor Sam Goldbloom and Director (and long time volunteer himself) Jordy Reichson to eight veterans following more than 20 years of dedicated service.
The Exemplary Service Medal, which was established in 1994 as part of the Canadian Honours System, recognizes individuals with at least 20 years of service in Emergency Medical Services and a strong commitment to exceptional performance.
I started at what used to be called EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) immediately after high school back in 1979. These were the years prior to First Responders and a coordinated ambulance service in Montreal. Residents would telephone directly to EMO and we would respond in our small fire-rescue truck, known as RMF-11 (Rescue, Medical, Fire).
Our first responder service was launched a few years later and I spent the next 20 years in active duty as a volunteer.
Shortly after being first elected in 1990, Councillor Ruth Kovac and I set off to form the EMO Review Committee and proposed upgrading the service to a full city service with a paid director, round the clock coverage, in-house training of our volunteer medics and widespread training of our residents, staff and visitors in CPR.
In total I have been involved in our Emergency Medical services and every aspect of Public Safety for 35 years, well over half of my life!
Additionally I served 18 years as an Emergency Medical Technician with Urgences Santé, five years on the Canadian Ski Patrol, and founded and spent countless hours with the CSL volunteer Citizens on Patrol group. My involvement doesn’t stop there having overseen Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on City Council since 1990.
I am very proud to have championed the first municipal bylaw requiring bike helmets in Canada and spending the last three decades advocating for mandatory helmet requirements for cyclists. It is with passion for caring for the injured, sick and needy that I have promoted the legal recognition of Paramedics in pre-hospital emergency medical care in Quebec.
There are so many highlights in my years in EMS. I have performed CPR more than 125 times and successfully revived one in four patients. One of my most memorable occasions serving on Montreal ambulances was my first and only delivery of a baby boy in his mother’s house, which permitted me to proudly wear a tiny blue stork pin on my uniform.
I remember with pride serving CSL EMO in a historical torrential downpour in 1987 that closed our underpasses stranding thousands of residents and spending fifteen straight days overseeing emergency services and communications during the 1998 Ice Storm.
Of major importance was my involvement, seven years ago, alongside Mayor Housefather, Councillor Kovac and MNA Lawrence Bergman in solidifying community support for EMS and the adoption of a special law in the National Assembly to allow our city to keep EMS as the First Responder service when the Montreal Fire Department took over this mandate everywhere else on the island.
Thank you to Mayor Housefather for his confidence in appointing me to my public safety and emergency preparedness positions for the last ten years and to Jordy Reichson for his collaboration and dedication to serving our community.
This has been a most rewarding, inspiring and epic journey for me, and for the thousands of volunteers who have crossed through the doors at Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services. Thank you to all those who have been involved in EMS for this great honour and immense privilege to serve.