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Loyalist paramedic students join emergency service fleets

More than 20 Loyalist College paramedic students in their final semester will have the opportunity to put their skills to work by immediately joining emergency health services teams as “student paramedics” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A province-wide framework for program completion led by Loyalist College was created in collaboration with government ministries, the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs and Ontario Base Hospitals.

The initiative enables emergency services to hire student paramedics as third members of two-person ambulance teams and positions students to complete the remainder of their in-ambulance experience to meet academic competency requirements.

“COVID-19 is putting a tremendous stress on frontline paramedicine personnel who are working tirelessly to support our community,” said Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist College President and CEO. “Our close relationship with ministry and industry partners enables us to move quickly to mobilize the province’s career-ready paramedic students for workforce integration while meeting the immediate needs of emergency services in our region and beyond.”

June MacDonald-Jenkins, Dean of Health, Human and Justice Studies at Loyalist, is the Paramedic Dean liaison for the province’s Heads of Health committee. She presented this program completion model to the ministries on behalf of all paramedic programs in Ontario.

“Students who are able to engage in this unique student paramedic role will still be eligible to write the Advanced Emergency Medical Care Assistants (AEMCA) exam,” said MacDonald-Jenkins. “This solution shows the Ministry of Health’s commitment to workforce mobilization through creative completion strategies.”

Student paramedics will continue to be supervised and mentored by their colleges once hired by an emergency service department.

“We are confident they are ready,” said Chief Ben Addley, Director for the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs. “The province’s paramedic programs are designed in such a way that these students are prepared for the workforce before graduation. We’re in a unique situation where we have students who are weeks away from finishing their programs. At this stage in their journey, they’re ready to join paramedic and emergency medical services across Ontario.”

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