A rewarding and challenging journey of care has drawn to a close for a Vanderhoof paramedic.
After 18 years with Vanderhoof Station 771 of B.C. Ambulance Service, Eileen Albertson has retired from her paramedic career in September this fall.
“It was a wonderful, challenging 18 years,” Albertson said. “I learned to love the people I work with, relying on your partner.”
She added, “It was a rewarding experience.”
Albertson was previously part of Murray Ridge’s ski patrol, until one day when a friend asked if she wants to start with the ambulance, she said.
“I’ve always been interested in first aid and helping people,” she said, with her experience in having six children at home. “First aid was a handy thing, kids growing up and getting hurt.”
Albertson found the intensive training for paramedics in dealing with different scenarios difficult at first to get through, but it was enjoyable and gave her a feeling of accomplishment at the end.
The main emphasis of the training lies not only in the safety and caring of the patients, but also safety of the paramedics, she added.
“That training prepares us for what we might face out in the field,” Albertson said.
While she used her skills to help, it’s heart-wrenching to see the pain and hurt, she said.
“If you work in a close community, you know a lot of the people,” Albertson said. “You didn’t know who you’re going to, a close friend, a family member, neighbours you know.”
She recalled an accident involving a young man who was the same age as her youngest son at the time.
“It was very difficult, my son asked me who it was,” she said. “It was difficult to see a young person in pain and hurting.”
She and the crew rushed him to the hospital, “but he didn’t make it,” she said.
It’s important to remember that there’s a purpose in life and the living are here, Albertson added.
“We’re someday together again, in families,” she said. “There’s always the bright side, when you’re able to save lives.”
Oftentimes working hand-in-hand with doctors and emergency staff, she appreciates their expertise as they help with patients that paramedics bring in, Albertson said.
“This is a great community work with, to serve the people, and help in a small way,” she said.
For Colin Clyne, who has worked with Albertson for 13 years and is the unit chief of Vanderhoof’s ambulance station, her desire to help people showed in her attention to the wants and needs of the patients, he said.
“Eileen, truly, at the bottom of what she wants to do, is to help people,” Clyne said. “Her kind heart always showed through.”
He added, “It’s pretty hard to hide a kind heart.”
Clyne’s first impression of Albertson was how presentable she always is — to be professional.
“Her hair was done, she has her makeup on,” he said. “A good presentation is nice.”
In her time with the Vanderhoof ambulance station, Albertson taught her colleagues how to care for her fellow man, Clyne said.
“She treats people with respect…care and understanding,” Clyne said. “She shows everybody what we can do.”
Having been in Vanderhoof since 1966, Albertson and her husband have six children, 44 grandchildren, and over 100 great-grandchildren, she said.
Most of her large extended family continues to live in Vanderhoof, and her mother will be turning 95 in May.