Following a near-fatal drug exposure that a Calgary paramedic recently experienced while on the job, the Alberta Paramedic Association (APA) activated its own provincial fund to raise money to support the worker.
The paramedic, identified only as Ryan B, has been recovering from the exposure at home under medical oversight, with support from his partner, Stacey, and two daughters, according to an APA Facebook post dated Sept. 3.
“I am touched,” Ryan B said about the support from the paramedic community, as quoted in the post.
Most information about the incident has been unavailable to the public, including the drug involved and the date when it occurred. APA executive director Marc Moebis said that the organization would provide no further detail “to respect Ryan’s family.”
Local media reports have stated that Ryan B required mechanical ventilation and medications to support his vital signs in an intensive-care unit after the exposure. He reportedly remained critically ill afterwards because of ongoing organ dysfunction.
“Right now, the paramedic community is just pulling together to provide some relief and support for Ryan and his family,” the APA said in a press statement.
The APA activated fundraising efforts from Sept. 1 to 7 via the Alberta HELP Fund, a nonprofit society that the association founded, initially to raise money for the families of victims of line-of-duty deaths. The HELP Fund had previously raised more than $18,000 in donations for a victim’s surviving family in 2015 and supported the construction of a registry of psychologists specializing in paramedic treatment last year, according to information from the APA website.
A Sept. 2 Facebook post from the APA called the continuing public support for Ryan B “overwhelming and very appreciated.”
An e-mailed response from Alberta Health Services (AHS), Ryan B’s employer, stated that it was reviewing the incident. “We take the safety of our employees very seriously and investigate any concerns brought to our attention,” added AHS.
Health Sciences Association of Alberta vice president Trudy Thomson told COHSN that her union was working with AHS and Ryan B regarding the incident. “I know the employer is doing their own internal investigation, and as an organization, we have requested that it have a full oh&s investigation,” she said, adding that Alberta Labour’s occupational health and safety division had agreed to look into the incident on Sept. 1.
Thomson could not provide any specific details about the exposure itself. “I know there’s lots of speculation out there,” she said. “We have not entered into any of that.”
She added that the risk of toxic exposure has become “more of a reality” for first responders today. “Their likelihood of being exposed is much greater than the public.”
The APA acknowledged that its members face many other risks as well.
“Due to the nature of paramedics’ unpredictable profession, oftentimes, we find ourselves exposed to hazards,” the APA statement read. “Whether that hazard is a sharp piece of glass, liquids at an accident scene, a street drug or a violent patient, facing these hazards is an accepted part of the job and requires a certain level of grit.”
The APA was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit, voluntary membership organization aiming to enhance skills, education, health and wellness among Alberta paramedics.