B.C. paramedics take gold at international competition

Competitors judged on how well they respond to medical emergencies

“When they announced that it was Team Canada, we were just ecstatic,” said team captain Alex Mattes. (Submitted by Alex Mattes)

A group of B.C. paramedics has won the top prize at an international competition that tests the life-saving skills of paramedics.

The Rallye Rejviz International Paramedic Competition has taken place in the Czech Republic for the past 22 years.

In the competition, paramedics from around the world compete in different scenarios where they are judged by the way they treat and transport patients.

The team of Gene Benoit, Stu Myers, Ron Van Houten and Alex Mattes beat 17 other international teams in their division to take gold.

Team captain Alex Mattes said the group completed 11 different scenarios in the 24-hour challenge. During that time, team members had no idea how they were doing.

“We finished all of our scenarios … and we had been going from 6 a.m. in the morning till 3:30 a.m. [the next] morning, so we were just dead,” Mattes said.

“We had no idea how we were going to do and … we were very nervous out there and then when they announced that it was Team Canada, we were just ecstatic.”

Mattes said the competition is particularly challenging because the actors in the scenarios only spoke Czech, so the Canadian paramedics had to communicate using hand gestures to get information from the patients.

“You’ve got to be very clear to them. It’s an extra challenge for us but it’s also very interesting because it’s very realistic to what we work with in Canada because we’re so multicultural [here], we run into these calls all the time,” he said.

A chance to learn

Mattes said competitions like this one offer a chance to practice and study different kinds of scenarios, and also network with other professionals from around the world.

“When you do this, it makes you a much better paramedic in the end. You learn so much more, not that we’re bad, but you get very complacent sometimes,” he said.

“This takes away all that complacency and makes sure you’re going to do it.”

Competitors are judged on how they respond to different patients — played by actors — in life-threatening conditions. (Ambulance Paramedics of BC/Facebook)

One of the team’s sponsors was the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.

Cameron Eby, the president of the association, said taking home top prize was “quite an honour.”

“We’re super excited by it. It’s a competition we’re going to for a number of years and it really is the best of the best from around the world as far as paramedicine,” Eby said.

“We’re very proud of them.”

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