A passion to help people

Sudbury Star

Paul Kadwell, deputy chief of paramedic services with the City of Greater Sudbury. Photo supplied

In Sudbury at dusk recently, standing on the front lawn of my dear friend’s home, her neighbours drove into the driveway of the next house. My hostess, Judi Cartman waved and they came over, a beautiful couple, Jannel and Paul Kadwell.

I was introduced and asked, in my direct-yet-friendly New York City fashion, “Young man, what you do?”

“I’m just a medic,” Paul said modestly. “Deputy chief for (Greater) Sudbury Paramedic Services.”

“Whhhhaaa?”

I was shocked. “Please don’t move, Paul.”

You bet I ran inside for a pen and paper. Luckily, Paul stood there. Probably thinking: this New Yorker is quite excitable; we might have to take care of her.

Coming back outside, my pen at the ready, I practically snorted.

“Just a medic. Paul, your people work in crisis all the time. And you manage them. Do you mind if I ask you, please, all of you work so hard to help people, how do you get used to this in life?”

Thank goodness he smiled. He knew who I was. In the Window Seat.

“Bonnie, we all need to have a life balance. All of us in Sudbury are here, present to help people who need us. Not to put ourselves in it. It’s after the calls that we’re able to reflect. Actually, decompress. We work with partners, and are able to talk about each incident, after the call of dramatic events. With the smaller events, you learn to roll with it.”

Under a tree and fading summer light, Paul told me he grew up in Kitchener and took the paramedic program at Conestoga College. After graduating, he moved to Sioux Lookout to work on the air ambulance for the Ontario Ministry of Health. He transferred to Sudbury and in 2000 started working for the City of Greater Sudbury Paramedic Services.

“This has always been my passion,” he said. “To help people. To do the best you can. In this profession, we’re intensely aware there are times when you’re able to make only a small contribution. If you’re with a palliative patient, just holding her hand.”

I stop writing. And simply listen.

“Sometimes it’s not the big drama,” Paul said quietly. “It’s the smaller ones, the day-to-day calls. We have a special program called Community Paramedics where  select paramedics treat patients with extensive medical issues like congestive heart failure. The community paramedics work with these patients to allow people to live independently in their homes with appropriate support for their health conditions.”

“How many work with you?”

“We have 97 full-time paramedics and 35 part-time medics. This year, we answered approximately 28,000 calls in Greater Sudbury.”

“And you are standing here quietly telling me this, Paul,” I say respectfully. Amazed yet again and always what people are able to do for each other.

“ I was fortunate to get into college, to keep learning,” he says. “This work is so important, and my work as deputy chief rewards me every day.”

I thanked him with great respect for the time he shared and told me about this work.

The next afternoon, selling my new novel, The Boat That Brings You Home, at Chapters, Roger and Jody Pilon stopped by. I’ve known Jody and written about her wonderful artwork.

Meeting Roger for the first time, I asked, “What is your work?”

There it was again.

“I’m just a nurse,” Roger said.

While I kept myself calm in Chapters, I did ask for his business card. Roger was charming. Reminding me, of course, of Paul Kadell.

Reading Roger’s card, I learned he has a PhD and is an assistant professor at Laurentian University, teaching nursing courses. In French and English.

No soapbox, but we need to be so proud and thankful for these young Sudbury men and women who help so much and are doing what they love.

Just taking care of us?

I am so grateful.

Our Bonnie loves being in Sudbury, learning and listening. Find her at BonnieKogos@gmail.com.

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