Erian De Los Reyes
First-year paramedic students training for their physically demanding program are already seeing progress in three months of work.
Natalia Bourdages, a first-year paramedic student who recently left her field in biology at University of Guelph, invests hours in the gym to prepare for her fitness exam.
Her fitness exams focus on cardio, by means of a beep test, and some strength training to prepare her for a long run in second year.
Bourdages said her midterm fitness exam, along with her written midterm test, were all very intense.
Lynne Urszenyi, the program coordinator for the paramedics program at Humber, said the program and the profession are very physically demanding, requiring not only personal strength but longevity as well.
“Emphasizing the commitment to lifelong physical fitness, what we’re trying to do is encourage the student to stay strong and to be able to have a healthy long career in the field,” said Urszenyi.
Bourdages, who recently finished her practical midterm exams said she focuses on cardio and strength training when she’s at the gym because “one portion of our exam is a shuttle run—sort of like a suicide back and forth across the gym.”
Urszneyi said as a former paramedic she always found time to exercise and go to the gym—sometimes after working a full shift.
“It doesn’t matter how smart you are (or) how clever you are as a paramedic, if you can’t carry the person, if you can’t lift them, you are of no use to the person… we do emphasize that physical component above all else in our program,” said Urszenyi.
Bourdages remembers the effort of walking to the fourth storey of a campus building to get to her class disappear after putting three months of intense workout routine.
“I see changes just in my general health,” said Bourdages.
Kathleen Bozzo, also a first-year paramedic student, said the program is very helpful when it comes to preparing students for practical work.
It was the idea of caring and helping others that really drew her to the paramedics course, said Bozzo.
Urzenyi emphasized the importance of continuing the training after the program is completed and that committing to becoming strong in a short time is essential to success in the paramedic profession.
Bourdages and Bozzo both agreed it would be hard, considering the physical demands and shift work required for the job, but think it’s possible to carry on training after finishing their paramedic program.