In 1986/87 I began training as a Red Cross First Aid and CPR Instructor. It was a great opportunity and the learning experiences gained from their volunteers was excellent. My first opportunity to teach first aid and CPR alone was at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In that first class I had a real variety of students from tradespeople, professors, and specialists in Radiation, Chemical, and Biosafety. The staff at that time were quite satisfied with the training I’d provided (thankfully), and I was given another 500-600 staff to train over two years.
In 1988 the Alberta Government created the opportunity for companies and organisations to receive equivalency to teach emergency, standard, and advanced first aid. Up until that time, only the 4 major non-profit organisations were approved. This was St. John’s, Canadian Red Cross, the Ski Patrol, and the Royal Lifesaving Society. I applied for equivalency after much work and support of JoAnne Seglie, an Occupational Health Nurse, that I credit for a large part of our school gaining roots. We received provincial approval for all three levels of first aid in Alberta with the creation of Canadian First Aid School. From that time until now we’ve maintained our provincial equivalency with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.
In 1990 we began offering EMT training through SAIT (Calgary) on an outreach basis. We ran several courses and each group was quite successful for the students when testing provincially. In 1995/96 we were able to secure provincial approval to offer our own EMT classes. This was our second accomplishment in the building of our school into a college. Our first EMT class was held at our school in Edmonton and it was a huge success for us. It was full-time, three months in length at 450 hours, and included two practicums for ambulance and hospital. I truly believe this full-time programme, which we repeated up until 2011 set the bar in Alberta for full-time EMT education.
In 1998 we applied for Paramedic equivalency as well. We received it, as well as the new EMR programme, which came after EMT. Our Paramedic course was different than all course offerings at that time. It was full-time, 4 days on – 4 days off, and was approximately 2500 hours of classroom/clinical learning with excellent educators. The 4 day rotation allowed us to secure students working in the ambulance industry as EMT’s, often with families as mature students. A typical Monday – Friday format was not doable by many mature students at that time. Our Paramedic programme ran for approximately 8 years, and we are so thankful to the amazing grads and alumni we’ve had.
Our work with the NAEMT led to us traveling across Canada to deliver AMLS and PHTLS to Civilian and Military groups alike. From Halifax to Vancouver we offered courses and instructor training on behalf of the NAEMT. This Canadian work ran from 2000-2015 and was a wonderful opportunity to network and share information.
In 2010/11 we had a significant disagreement with the Alberta College of Paramedics over the process of course approval and accreditation. The Health Disciplines Board (at that time) was transferring the control of course approvals over to the College of Paramedics, and for us, this transition was challenging. With over one-year of challenges and legal wrangling I opted for our College to voluntarily withdraw it’s programme approvals at that time. This was a very painful decision to “step back”, but was important to preserve the dignity of our Alumni, Educators, and for the industry as a whole. Our historic successes in EMS education is visible in our Alumni. Many of whom today are in leadership and education roles across Alberta, and Canada. Several of our Alumni have gone forward into medical school, and are practicing physicians.
Since 2011 we’ve been involved in training CPR, ACLS, PHTLS, and AMLS programmes. We’ve also been very involved in providing Advanced First Aid to clients in Industry, Security, and other disciplines. Our other divisions of Industrial Clinics and Event Medical Services has been our connection to clinical care. We’ve been very fortunate to work with non-profit groups large and small, and companies, large and small for clinical work. We provide 1000’s of hours of volunteer medical care and first aid in the community.
Looking forward, we’re continuing our interests in Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Dental Continuing Education, and working with the courses from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. We might even look into pursuing EMS programmes again as the “environment” in our industry is becoming more amenable and transparent.
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