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Sudbury paramedic honoured for third time this month receives bravery medal

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A Sudbury woman is receiving a lot of praise this month for her hard work and dedication while on and off duty as a paramedic.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas (left) and Sudbury paramedic Sarah Stagg (right) at the Royal Ontario Museum. May 27, 2024 (Supplied)

Sarah Stagg started working as a paramedic in the Sudbury-Manitoulin area 12 years ago she told CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca in a phone interview.

Monday night, she and 10 others from across the province were presented with an Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Stagg said she is very honoured, but feels it is also a little difficult to accept the recognition due to the reason for the award.

She was recognized for showing exceptional courage when she risked her life to provide life-saving care to two boys who had been stabbed outside her home while she was off duty the night of June 14, 2023.

Act of bravery

When her dog woke her up that night, she heard screaming and found two teens lying on the sidewalk.

"Paramedic Stagg bravely exited her home and upon noticing that one of the victims was unresponsive, began life-saving measures, while also gathering information regarding the assailants from the second injured victim and relaying it to the 911 communicator," the province said in a news release.

"She continued to care for the victims until paramedic units arrived and assumed responsibility."

Sarah Stagg (left) receives Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery at Royal Ontario Museum with her work partner Guy Roy (right) in attendance. May 27, 2024 (Supplied)

Despite her best efforts a 17-year-old succumbed to his injuries.

The second boy was taken into emergency surgery and made a full recovery.

"When you are off-duty, you aren't prepared and don't have tools," she said.

"I can only do what I am trained to do and accept when things don't go the way we want them to."

Stagg said he is doing well and she keeps in contact with the detective assigned to the case as it continues through the court process.

Two teenaged suspects were arrested the day after the stabbing.

A 16-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

The second suspect, 17, is charged with two counts of assault and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Second award

Less than two weeks ago Stagg was also recognized by the Greater Sudbury Police Service with the Nicole Belair Service Above Self Award for the same incident.

Paramedic Sarah Stagg (second from right) stands with Police Chief Paul Pedersen (right) after receiving the Nicole Belair Service Above Self Award from the Greater Sudbury Police Service. May 17, 2024. (Supplied)

Belair lost her life while visiting a client when the building caught fire, but she managed to help save many people from the blaze.

Stagg said Belair's mother presented the award and that it means a lot to have her name beside the woman's.

Recognized by hospital

During 'Paramedic Week' last week, Stagg was recognized by her base hospital Health Sciences North Centre for Prehospital Care after being nominated by one of her peers.

"Sarah, on more than one occasion, has proven to go above and beyond in her role as a paramedic. I have not worked with another medic in my short five years with the service who routinely does everything in her power to ensure the highest quality of care for her patients. I have personally experienced her calm, rational and decisive personality in the face of extreme circumstances," the nominator said in a social media post by the hospital.

"Sarah doesn't only maintain this exemplary level while on the job, it carries over to her everyday life as well. Sarah is the prime example of what a paramedic should be and how one should treat the people in their care. She is proud, brave, compassionate and intelligent."

Strong support system

Stagg said she loves her job despite some of the traumatic things paramedics witness.

She credits the camaraderie with her co-workers who have built a close-knit community that feels like family to her.

Sarah Spragg (right) stands with her boyfriend Mikey Lewis (left) after receiving the Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery at Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. May 27, 2024 (Supplied)

"I have a really amazing support with my management team, I feel very supported," she said.

She credits her partner Guy Roy, who she describes as a "glass half-full-type of guy" and has been a medic longer than she has.

"He is a big reason why I am so optimistic about my job," Stagg said.

"Doesn't matter how bad the day is, he will point out the good and say 'it could be worse.'"

She said 80 per cent of the work is "easy," and only about 20 per cent is really bad, but she said it is important to maintain a good state of mind and "stay out of your own head."

She does that by debriefing with her partner and communicating with her team on what went well and what can be improved.

She said it feels amazing when someone they have helped comes to the station and tells them how they have made a positive impact on their life.

Second choice career

Stagg originally wanted to become a midwife, but when she didn't get accepted into the program, she decided to take the condensed paramedic program instead to try to become a better candidate for the following year.

She completed the difficult course in just one year, rather than two, and said once she started working in her preceptorship, she fell in love with the people and career.

"I didn't really know my place until I started," Stagg said.

"This is where I am meant to be."

Rainy River paramedics

Two other paramedics from northern Ontario, Syed Ali and Raphael Desautels, were also awarded the Ontario Medal for Paramedic Bravery on Monday night.

Eleven paramedics from across the province received medal for paramedic bravery at Royal Ontario Museum. May 27, 2024 (Sarah Spragg)

They work together in the Rainy River District in the northwest and were recognized for their response to a house fire last March.

When they arrived, they found thick, black smoke and despite the harmful, smoky conditions, Desautels was able to find a person on the floor inside.

The pair took turns going inside, "putting themselves at great risk of inhaling deadly smoke and were able to successfully extricate the individual from the house and provide immediate care and transport to a hospital."

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