Matt knew he wanted to be a paramedic from the time he was 5 years old. In kindergarten his favourite thing to draw was ambulances and in High School he became a lifeguard which further confirmed his career goals. “It just stayed with me. I never really questioned it from a young age — it was always what I wanted to do so I was lucky that way.”

At the age of 22, Matt became a Primary Care Paramedic with the Region of Waterloo — a job he still loves five years later. Each day is “different but the same” on the job. Matt starts his day checking his assignment and ensuring that his vehicle is stocked and ready to go. He is briefed about any current road conditions or situations that are occurring that day that could impact him on a call. As prepared as he is, he knows that when he leaves the station anything could be waiting for him.

For Matt the most challenging part of the job is staying calm in high-pressure situations. “To maintain a calm mindset while the situation is anything but calm and to be able to slow things down when things are moving quite quickly — that’s the greatest challenge.”

Thankfully not every call is like this but when he finds himself in these situations, Matt’s approach is to step back, take a deep breath and prioritize what needs to be done before implementing the plan. “We have to continue re-evaluating the situation to see what needs to change. Has the [patient’s condition] changed and therefore should my approach change too?”

Matt also credits having a partner to being the key to success during the high-stress calls. “It helps to have a really good partner and we are lucky here in the Region because there are so many great paramedics to support you.”

Starting his career as a paramedic at such a young age meant growing up faster than some of his friends. “Not many people in their early 20s can say that they’ve had to deliver death notifications or that they’ve had to do CPR to keep someone alive. Those are situations that expose you to a different side of the world that not very many people see and when you see that side it opens your eyes to the reality of what we live in and I think that can contribute to personal growth as well.”

It’s the personal growth that Matt has experienced as a paramedic that he finds the most rewarding part of the job. “There’s the opportunity for professional growth but also personal growth through the relationships that you develop with the people you work with. We work so closely and it’s an emotional job. The personal growth we experience would be difficult to achieve in another environment. Every day I learn from the people around me and just improve as a paramedic but also in my life outside of work.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone considering a career as a paramedic Matt was quick to respond — “I would say that if someone wants to be a paramedic that they should do it because it’s a great job. That being said I would encourage them to do their research and find out if this is really what they want to do. To be successful as a paramedic you have to have an underlying and true desire to help people. If you don’t have that you won’t last very long because the excitement of the lights and sirens will wear off. When that happens what keeps you going is that desire to help others — that’s what is really at the heart of it all.”

For more information visit Paramedic Services.