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Paramedic awarded for selfless act


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From: http://mississauga.com/article/20546

Sheri Sutherland is no ordinary paramedic. She's Peel's finest.

Sutherland, an advanced care paramedic, was recently awarded the N.H. McNally Award for Bravery for her quick thinking and courage in the face of a situation where she disregarded her own safety to save the life of a driver trapped in a burning car.

The McNally Award is named after Dr. Norman McNally who's also known as the father of Ontario's ambulance system. The award is given to paramedics who risk their lives to protect others from harm and is presented only when deserved.

Sutherland was recognized for her bravery at Peel Regional Council on Thursday (Oct. 30). Also recognized were Peel paramedics Brent Gallaugher and Garry Coram, along with Peter Dundas, director of Peel Regional Paramedic Services. The trio received the Governor General's EMS Exemplary Award.

Sutherland was the first to arrive on scene of a gruesome accident in Brampton earlier this year. A van that was involved in a collision was wedged under a tractor-trailer when it caught fire. Sutherland grabbed a fire extinguisher and instructed a bystander to direct it towards the fire. She then broke the passenger-side window and climbed into the vehicle to rescue the unconscious driver.

“Sheri is a very deserving recipient of the award,” said Dundas. “She put risk above her own personal safety. We're trained as paramedics to respond to a situation, and we react very quickly. Sheri's attributes are similar to the 400 paramedics we have here in Peel today – dedicated, knowledgeable and loyal.”

I don't mean to take away from what she did because it obviously had a positive outcome, but does anyone else see it as somewhat strange that someone is being honoured for doing what they were not trained to do? The quote from the director seems to be especially carefully worded to not say that this is what she was trained to do. I know that this is not that unusual an occurrence and she went "beyond the call of duty" but it raises some questions in my mind.

What if she had been injured in her attempt and was unsuccessful at getting the driver out? Would she have been reprimanded for entering what was nowhere near a safe environment?

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So was she supposed to stand there and watch the driver burn to death?

Even though she wasn't giving NTG for chest pain as she is trained to do or some other skill she is TRAINED to do, as you put it, she was doing her job by serving the public and saving that persons' life.

BECAUSE she was performing her job and the specific act mentioned was not a normal situation we see in our job every day, she DEFINITELY deserves to be recognized.

I take my hat off to her for being someone who has the courage to do something out of the ordinary to help her fellow (wo)man.

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quote from article

instructed a bystander to direct it towards the fire.

She also put a bystander at risk. That person's safety should have been of some concern.

It would be interesting to know the workmens comp laws for that state concerning off duty EMS personnel.

If Florida, you can be covered if you are an employee of a government EMS agency.

Yes, it is difficult to watch someone burn, drown or fall to their death, but if your safety and the safety of others are at risk, it is a tough decision not to help but may be the correct one. If you and bystanders do not have the proper training or equipment, you may be ineffective or make the scene worst by now having more injured or dead people. Many lives, including families, can be ruined by some "heroic" acts involving off duty personnel and bystanders.

Below is an incident that happened one year ago in Florida.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080...5/1030/NEWS0103

Lingering Halloween nightmare

Drowning revealed need for equipment, training

Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 2:24 a.m.

Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The decisions made by Manatee County paramedics at a retention pond Halloween night remain the subject of intense public debate two months later. The reasons behind those decisions should be the subject of intense scrutiny -- and action -- by public officials in the months ahead.

Around 11:15 that night, witnesses say, they saw an SUV crash through two fences and plummet into a pond near Southeast High School. Two young women in the vehicle escaped and swam to safety, but two other occupants -- 25-year-old Johnnie Schoolfield Jr. and 22-year-old Theo Thomas -- remained in the pond, yelling for help.

As the Herald-Tribune's Anthony Cormier recounted in an article published Monday, Schoolfield had drowned by the time the first rescue worker -- a paramedic -- arrived. But Thomas was still struggling in the water.

The paramedic didn't jump in to try to rescue him, and neither did members of the ambulance crew who arrived next. Finally, two firefighters -- who reached the scene about four minutes after the 911 call -- jumped in but, by then, were unable to find the man.

More articles on story:

Boss defends EMS actions at drowning scene

Updated: Nov 1, 2007 08:51 PM PDT

http://www.wwsb.com/Global/story.asp?S=7300801

Manatee EMS staff training criticized

Lack of a rescue attempt after a vehicle went into a pond draws attention

Published: Monday, December 31, 2007 at 2:35 a.m.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll.../NEWS/712310408

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I congratulate the paramedic for her actions.

Pre FDNY/EMS merger, a paramedic got awarded for jumping from one elevator car to another, which was stuck, to render aid to a woman. Both elevators were up something like 30 stories at the time.

I am sure that almost all ambulance agencies have some kind of awards program for actions taken that are outside the regular stuff, which later translates to the so called "WTF were you thinking?"

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So was she supposed to stand there and watch the driver burn to death?

Going by what we were all trained in, the scene was not safe and she should have waited. I'm not saying that this is what I would have done, but if we are talking about strictly following training then this is what she should have done.

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I don't mean to take away from what she did because it obviously had a positive outcome, but does anyone else see it as somewhat strange that someone is being honoured for doing what they were not trained to do?
Nope, not strange at all. People don't get awards for doing what they were trained to do usually . . . their everyday job. Rather when a citizen makes a rapid decision and saves a life.

There's the whole keeping yourself safe and thinking intelligently that we promote, but there's also the human being factor. Someone's about to burn alive in their car. Sit there, watching, waving goodbye to them as they die or get the freaking fire extinguisher and use it?

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Nope, not strange at all. People don't get awards for doing what they were trained to do usually . . . their everyday job. Rather when a citizen makes a rapid decision and saves a life.

There's the whole keeping yourself safe and thinking intelligently that we promote, but there's also the human being factor. Someone's about to burn alive in their car. Sit there, watching, waving goodbye to them as they die or get the freaking fire extinguisher and use it?

She didn't just get a fire extinguisher and use it, she put herself at risk and got in the car. And maybe I should have better phrased the above quote to "...does anyone else see it as somewhat strange that someone is being honoured for doing what they were trained to not do?"

Most seem to be focussing on the fact that she did something good and everything went well. What about if things had gone wrong and she had been injured trying to help? Should she be subject to punishment then?

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Most seem to be focussing on the fact that she did something good and everything went well. What about if things had gone wrong and she had been injured trying to help? Should she be subject to punishment then?

Why not focus on the good? In the case, everything seemed to have a positive outcome. Sure, the decision may not have been the best, but after the fact, it does not seem to matter so much. Had she screwed up and got herself or the bystander injured, then she would be criticized. As far as they occupant, they were as good as dead. She risked her life to save the man, who seemed to have a poor outcome, kudos to her.

Going by what we were all trained in, the scene was not safe and she should have waited. I'm not saying that this is what I would have done, but if we are talking about strictly following training then this is what she should have done.

I have a problem with this mode of thinking. I think it is bad practice to just go through a situation by a set plan. When faced with situations, you should adjust to them, and be flexible. In defense of the medic, maybe the fire was small, and had potential. By your absolute, she should not enter, but by her adaptation, she faced the issue and had a great outcome. To me, the above statement is like following a protocol, which does not get us very far.

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She didn't just get a fire extinguisher and use it, she put herself at risk and got in the car. And maybe I should have better phrased the above quote to "...does anyone else see it as somewhat strange that someone is being honoured for doing what they were trained to not do?"

Most seem to be focussing on the fact that she did something good and everything went well. What about if things had gone wrong and she had been injured trying to help? Should she be subject to punishment then?

So not only did she put herself at risk, she put her job at risk (being potentially fired). That just makes her more of a hero to me.

I know it's not what your looking for and I do understand what you're saying...but when it's a rare ACUTE event that needs immediate intervention like this to certainly not only save a life, but prevent awful suffering while dying...it just seems different.

Logically it's hard to differentiate it from going into a shooting scene before police clears it...so maybe it's not based on logic. Just a human factor? Maybe because it's not a common event (GSW's are common and rushing in isn't necessarily going to save the life). The pros vs cons might be more clear in the burning car case. AND I don't know how the setup of the car was...or the fire in relation to her when she went in.

I know my agency doesn't want us to be dumbasses on scene, Ricky Rescues, or wannabe-heros....but the managers are also all human and probably wouldn't discipline us if it came to such an intense decision.

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