Paramedic student puts knowledge into action by helping stroke victim

Left to right: Shannon Walmsley, Davis Sheridan, and Donna Walmsley.
Left to right: Shannon Walmsley, Davis Sheridan, and Donna Walmsley.

Donna Walmsley started her day on February 4, 2019 just like any other Monday, volunteering at Community Care Ennismore and running errands around town. She didn’t feel any different that morning than any other morning, but February 4th is the day Donna had a stroke.

“I was fine,” said Donna. “I went to Giant Tiger and started driving to No Frills, and then I felt like I couldn’t see.”

Donna missed her first turn into the plaza and then remembered there is a second entrance, which she managed to pull into and park. Realizing no one would notice her inside the vehicle, Donna willed herself to move.

“I opened my car door and I didn’t know if I could walk, I didn’t know if I could make it across the parking lot, but I needed to get to a public space,” said Donna, who describes the feeling as extreme dizziness. Donna made it inside the No Frills and held onto the vegetable shelves to prevent herself from falling.

Luckily for Donna, Fleming College Paramedic student Davis Sheridan was grocery shopping that day.

“I told the employees to call the Paramedics because they weren’t sure what to do. I comforted her until the ambulance came and I did a stroke assessment on her, checked her pulse, and calmed her breathing,” explained Davis, who is in his final semester at Fleming. “She felt dizzy and she couldn’t stand up, she was worried about her dog being at home and no one being there, and she also mentioned her daughter Shannon.”

When Paramedics arrived, Davis reported all of this to them.

“We are going through ride-outs right now in the Paramedic program,” said Davis, referring to the fourth-semester Paramedic Consolidation course, where students work regular shifts in an ambulance with a paramedic crew. “I am doing mine with Northumberland Paramedics right now, which is working with real patients, so this situation felt natural to me and I was comfortable. I felt very prepared through school and experience.”

Donna and her daughter Shannon are very grateful to Davis. On Monday, March 4, they visited the Paramedic Lab at Fleming’s Sutherland Campus to thank Davis in person.

“You’re going into this career and I think it’s nice to go into it having a happy story to hang on to,” said Shannon, who teased her mom when she met Davis.

“My mom loves red hair,” said Shannon.

Donna added, “Shannon said to me, ‘leave it to you to find a redhead!”

Paramedic students will brave the cold for Polar Bear Plunge

Christian Bell, Kaitlin Glab, Demi Asselin, and Brady Wills.
Christian Bell, Kaitlin Glab, Demi Asselin, and Brady Wills.

Snow, ice and chilly weather may deter you from taking a dip in the Trent River this winter, but for a group of Paramedic students, it is an invitation to challenge themselves.

Demi Asselin, Brady Wills, Christian Bell and Kaitlin Glab are braving the cold this Saturday at Campbellford Lions Club Park for a good cause. They will be testing the waters at the 27th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Campbellford Memorial Hospital organized by the Auxiliary to the Campbellford Memorial Hospital. Money raised will go towards purchasing equipment.

“I’m scared but excited!” said Demi. “I’ve jumped out of a hot tub and into the snow before, but never a lake.”

Kaitlin, who organized the team, encouraged her friend and said it will be fun.

“I used to go to school in B.C. and I did it in October with some friends,” explained Kaitlin. “We heard about a person named Wim Hoff, who calls himself The Iceman, and submerges himself in water—so we tested it out because it’s supposed to boost the immune system. We lasted 15 minutes.”

Brady said that while he has never taken a dip during the winter, he does have wonderful memories of jumping in the lake first thing in the morning at summer camp. Brady said that the water is very cold in the early morning, even in the summer, so he’s hoping that experience will give him a competitive edge.

An article featuring past Paramedic students inspired the students to do the Polar Bear Plunge.

“There’s an article on the bulletin board (in our classroom) of Paramedic students doing it, so we want to carry on the tradition,” said Brady. “And we want to do it. It’s for a good cause.”

Christian agrees. As a former pediatric cancer patient at Kingston General Hospital, the cause is an important motivator for him. Christian is an active fundraiser, mainly for pediatrics, and recently fundraised for Make-A-Wish. Christian knows the positive impact fundraising has on hospitals and is happy to challenge himself to help Campbellford Memorial Hospital.

For those who would like to support the group at the Polar Bear Plunge, please email Kaitlin at kglab17@gmail.com.

First responder is first choice for Valedictorian Courtney Puterman

courtney-putermanFrom a young age, Courtney Puterman wanted to be a first responder. Whenever a police car, fire truck or ambulance would drive through her street, Courtney would press her face to the window, curious about what was happening.

“I wanted to be in a profession where I was going to make a difference and be able to help people,” said Courtney, who decided to pursue a Paramedic career and applied to the Fleming College program. “I was fortunate to be accepted and am very grateful for it as I truly feel like this was the right choice for me.”

Courtney, who is graduating from Fleming College next week, said her two years in the program flew by. “I can still remember who I sat beside on the very first day and how nervous I was for our first set of final exams. My experience though was really amazing and I owe a lot of that to my peers and staff,” said Courtney. “Our program is a smaller one, which makes it very tight-knit; you can lean on anyone for support and you make some amazing friends.”

Courtney’s most memorable experience was competing in the National Paramedic Competition in Ottawa this spring, where she was one of four representing Fleming College. Courtney said the competition helped her gain more confidence in her skill and ability by putting her education to the test.

“It was also such an exciting weekend as many of my peers and friends from the program traveled to Ottawa in order to cheer us on,” she said. “It was also really exciting to have your teachers there pushing you and cheering you on. They made it very clear that they were proud of us and I think I can speak for the other three competitors as well when I say how awesome that felt. Overall, it was the perfect weekend to wrap up these last two years.”

Courtney, who recommends the Paramedic program to others, said the skills she gained at Fleming include: how to extricate patients from vehicles, how to triage patients in multi-causality incidents, how to do CPR in a moving ambulance, and how to tell someone their loved one has passed away or that they’re having a massive heart attack.

“But like most programs in the School of Health and Wellness, I learnt how to be compassionate, empathetic, professional, an advocate and a leader,” she added.

When Courtney is not working at Oxford County Paramedic Services or studying for the provincial exam in June, she is busy writing her Valedictorian speech for convocation.

The Paramedic graduate was selected to be Valedictorian for the School of Health and Wellness ceremony on Thursday, June 8 at 10 a.m. She will be speaking to graduates from the Paramedic, Massage Therapy, Personal Support Worker, and Practical Nursing programs.

“Each individual put in a lot of effort to be sitting in a seat at convocation and I want my speech to reflect that,” she said. “I want everyone to feel a sense of pride for what they have achieved.”

Courtney also feels pride for receiving this honour at convocation. “I was really honoured when I found out that I was even being nominated,” said Courtney. “I’m very appreciative of this opportunity and I’m really hoping that I do it justice for all the programs.”