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Strathmore man with Down syndrome named honorary paramedic

Ty Dahl showed up at the door to the Wheatland EMS station in Strathmore 15 months ago and wanted to be part of the team. Kevin Link, the operations manager, couldn’t refuse the request.

“I have a daughter with Down syndrome,” said Link. “So when Ty came to the doors I said ‘yes’, so we invited him in and he’s been here since. It’s been great for Ty, he’s excited to be here — (and) everybody deserves to be happy.”

Dahl is 33 years old and Link set him up with his own uniform and security card to access the station and made him an honorary paramedic.

“I want to work in the ambulance,” said Dahl.  “It’s a really great job.”

He comes three days a week for a little over an hour and he has a number of responsibilities in the office and ambulance bays.

“It’s different day to day,” said Link. “In the bay he washes the floors, and squeegees them, (empties the) garbage, anything we can dream up that is helpful and safe for him to do.”

Dahl also puts on a radio when he shows up, just like all the other paramedics at the station.

“He talks (as if) it his mic, saying hello, hello and that goes all over,” said Link. “Our fire department hears that and just recently I heard (a firefighter ask) who he says hello in the mornings, — well that’s Ty, so it’s awesome.”

WORK THE SIREN

Link says every few weeks he’s able to take an ambulance out of service when it’s quiet and a paramedic will take Dahl for a ride outside of Strathmore so he can sit in the passenger seat and work the siren.

“Alberta Health Services EMS dispatch center are fantastic with it because they want to help with this inclusive environment as well,” said Link. “We’re able to we give him a ride in an ambulance, it’s a joy to have him here.”

Raelene Moran is a job coach and works with adults with disabilities. She accompanies Dahl to the EMS station for his shifts.

“He’s very prideful in his work and takes it really seriously so it’s nice to see,” she said. “It’s nice to see people welcoming adults with disabilities into their businesses, into their communities.”

Blaine Payne is a primary care paramedic in Wheatland County and says Dahl wears his uniform proudly.

“He is very excited to shake everybody’s hand, he brings a contagious enthusiasm and he just he brightens up our day,” said Payne. “He’s very diligent and as he’s gotten to know us he kind of tells us what he needs to do and what he doesn’t need to do, he’s great.”

GREAT ADDITION TO TEAM

Payne says Dahl is a great addition to the team, and he’s very much a part of it.

“He brings something to our service that probably we didn’t have before and our days sometimes can be pretty intense, he just brightens everything up,” Payne said. “He emphasizes all the wonderful things that are great about this job when you first start so he brings an enthusiasm and a joy that sometimes you can lose and he reintroduces that.”

Link says his 18-year-old daughter Samantha likes to visit with Dahl in person or on FaceTime to hear how his day is going at the station and Link says Dahl will retain his honorary paramedic status at Wheatland EMS for as long as he’d like.

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