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‘I took a leap of faith’: North Bay paramedic reflects on vital job during recognition week


For 21 years, advanced care paramedic Maxine Samson has called the back of an ambulance her office.

Career paramedic Maxine Samson from North Bay, Ont., shares her story with CTV News. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Coming out of school right away, Samson started as a student paramedic before suiting up full-time with the District of Nipissing in 2003.

“You've got adrenaline pumping every time,” she said.

“I had no family or friends that were in the medical field. I took a leap of faith.”

Samson told CTV News that the job can be tough, grueling and traumatic – having to be the first on scene when lives hang in the balance but it is something she would not change for the world.

The career paramedic said what keeps her grounded is meeting with cardiac arrest survivors whom she helped save.

“We're able to get to the scene in a quick amount of time and deliver those initial shocks in CPR sequences and get a pulse back and meet those people years later and their sense of thankfulness,” said Samson.

“Those moments are the ones that tend to let me reflect on over my time as a paramedic.”

When not rushing to a 911 call, Samson is often going from school to school talking to students about the job and the role paramedics play in the healthcare system.

“We’re a role model to a lot of individuals out there, especially young children, when they’re trying to think about what their profession is going to be when they grow up,” she said.

Advanced care paramedics do more than just administer some more life-saving cardiac drugs they participate in a community's healthcare system. A paramedic going through medications in an ambulance is pictured. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

When Samson first started, the Nipisisng’s paramedic services only had one skill set – primary care. She was a part of the launch of advanced care paramedicine in the district.

“We're able to administer some more life-saving cardiac drugs,” said Samson.

“We are able to use advanced airways to help people breathe a little bit better.”

District of Nipissing Paramedic Services Chief Stephen Kirk talks with CTV News Northern Ontario about paramedicine on May 22, 2024. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)

District of Nipissing Paramedic Services Chief Stephen Kirk said he has nothing but praise for Samson, who was promoted to superintendent two years ago.

“She's part of our future for the organization,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing her continue progression through the service.”

In 2023, Nipissing paramedics answered nearly 18,500 emergency calls.

May 19-25, Ontario is marking Paramedic Services Week. This year’s theme is “Help Us, Help You." The recognition week not only honours the individuals who provide this vital service but gives the public a chance to better understand the broader role EMS plays in the healthcare system.

In 2014, the district launched the community paramedic program which brings healthcare into the homes of residents. This is to help them avoid unnecessary hospital visits. Last year, nearly 2,300 community paramedicine visits were conducted.

“A lot of it's centered around certain demographics,” said Kirk.

“Our elderly population starting to bridge into homelessness, addictions and mental health supports.”

Provincial statistics show the launch of community paramedicine programs results in a reduction hospital emergency room visits and admissions as well as a significant decrease in 911 calls.

“I know that I'm the first person that somebody sees in their worst moments of their lives,” Samson said.

“I take a lot of pride and compassion when I knock on their door and let them know that help is there.”

The most important aspect of the evolving paramedic field, Samson said, is knowing she and her colleagues will always be on call ready to be there in times of need.

“I do take a sense of pride knowing that I will be the professional that gets them to definitive care,” she said.

Maxine Samson packs up equipment in the back of a District of Nipissing ambulance after talking with CTV News Northern Ontario on May 22, 2024. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario) Top Stories

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