Paramedic students take top spot at national competition

Your heart’s racing, the pulse is pounding in your ears and sweat is dripping from your forehead as you race to save a life. Although the average person rarely faces a life-or-death situation like this, paramedics and Paramedic program students challenged their ability to act in these exact scenarios at the 10th annual National Paramedic Competition held at the Durham College Whitby campus on April 21.

Matt Walton and Dale Button, two graduating Durham College Paramedic program students who also volunteered at last year’s event, took first place in the student division of the competition, which is held annually by a committee of volunteers to challenge the ability of professionals and students to react during an emergency situation.  

“The skills and knowledge provided to us from full- and part-time faculty at Durham College prepared us for an event like this,” added Button. “We have also taken a strong interest in our education; spending many hours in the lab after classes practising skills and scenarios.”

Walton, Button and 33 other teams of two tackled scenario-based events with human actors, high-fidelity patient simulators and academic tests challenging their ability to react in emergency situations as family and friends watched at the sideline.

“The experience as a whole was an amazing way to wrap up the two years we have spent in the Paramedic program,” said Button. “Being able to practise our skills and the career we are passionate about in front of our families was a highlight.”   

Two judges evaluated each scenario, which lasted approximately 18 minutes, using a checklist to ensure procedures were executed correctly and safely. The team with the highest score in each division was then declared the winner.

“Practising for the competition was a great way for us to prepare for the hiring process,” said Button since individuals looking to secure a position in the Paramedic field are required to undergo a competition-like process with both written and practical components. “Although these tests and scenarios aren’t as difficult or rare as those seen in the competition, preparing for the harder scenarios really gets you ready for the easier ones.”

The college’s two-year paramedic program, the first in Ontario to be accredited by the Canadian Medical Association, prepares students for a fast-paced, unpredictable career through the use of physical and wellness training, field placements and computer-assisted learning in addition to classroom and laboratory activities.