Ottawa’s Unsung Heroes is a “briefing paper” put out by CUPE Local 503 recently on the work of Ottawa paramedics.
It suggests paramedics get no respect compared to other lifesavers, like police, firefighters and medical staff at hospitals. The paper spends time comparing paramedic calls for service with firefighters, so you know where this is going.
The Sun’s Doug Hempstead last fall wrote about the feud between paramedics and firefighters as municipalities find ways to merge some of the services the departments provide. At stake are jobs, but there is a good amount of chest thumping going on, too.
(By the way, paramedics, firefighters and police are represented by separate unions)
This notion that paramedics (as the paper suggests) “never seem to get the respect and honour” that firefighters, cops and hospital staff receive is very real in that profession. It’s something that always perplexed me when I covered police, firefighters and paramedics on the crime beat. All three, in my mind, deserve equal praise and, in my experience, are regarded highly by the public. In fact, paramedics have done a good job locally of promoting their work. It wasn’t long ago the fire department didn’t really have a point contact for the media, now it’s one of the more effective city departments using social media.
Merging fire and paramedic services hasn’t come up formally at Ottawa City Hall. It seems like a messy debate and I can’t imagine this council would be interested in that kind of controversy.