Winnipeg paramedics answer the call to help strained northern First Nations communities

Six Winnipeg paramedics flew into three remote northern communities Dec. 27 to help health services being strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We took a little plane up to Saint Theresa’s Point, and then two of us, myself and Kevin Martin, got on a helicopter into Wasagamack. The other four advanced paramedics went to Oxford House and on to Shamattawa,” advanced care paramedic Ryan Woiden said.

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The First Nation Inuit Health Branch requested help from Shared Health, asking for advanced care paramedics to assist them with COVID-19 assessments and swabs, as well as responding to any and all emergency calls.

Winnipeg advanced care paramedic Ryan Woiden.
Winnipeg advanced care paramedic Ryan Woiden. Ryan Woiden

“Just the staffing up here, with COVID, everything takes longer, so when you have five people show up at the nursing station, those five people could take two hours each,” Woiden said. “So when you have five more come, you just start getting overwhelmed pretty easy here.”

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All six paramedics are giving up their four scheduled days off in Winnipeg to help during the holiday break. Woiden said he would return if the help was needed.

“We have to go back to work right away as well on the 31, so we’re staying until the 30,” Woiden said. “We’ll answer the call again if they ask because the people up here, the community, you know, they’re accepting, they’re trusting and the staff here, you know, you just can’t say enough about them.”

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