On May 31, two local paramedics were among the eight recipients of the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery, an award created to honour paramedics who have performed an act of exceptional courage.
Paramedics Mark Verbeek and Neil Hebb from Muskoka Paramedic Services were honoured for their response to a call on November 23, 2016. They arrived at a structure fire where flames and smoke were coming out of every window. Bystanders said that the resident hadn’t yet emerged from the building and an OPP officer told them he could see a person inside the front door who had been pushed back by the thick, black smoke. Hebb and Verbeek entered the building, one holding the other’s belt, and were able to reach and move the patient out of the burning building.
“Paramedics are trained to jump in and respond to those in need, I am proud of the work Muskoka Paramedics do every day and am extremely proud of Neil and Mark’s actions,” said Jeff McWilliam, Chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Management at the District Municipality of Muskoka. “Mark and Neil reflect the courage and dedication that embodies first responders and the paramedic profession.”
“Paramedics Verbeek and Hebb are part of a great team who provide excellent care to residents and visitors who live in or visit Muskoka,” said Michael Duben, the District’s Chief Administrative Officer. “We congratulate Mark and Neil on this very distinguished award, and we thank all our dedicated Muskoka Paramedic Services staff for their ongoing service to our community.”
The awards were presented by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in a ceremony at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
“Today, we recognize the remarkable courage shown by these paramedics through Ontario`s Award for Paramedic Bravery,” said Hoskins in a media release earlier in the day. “Each of the honourees went above and beyond to provide care in dangerous circumstances and demonstrated their exceptional commitment to keep communities safe.”
The Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery was first presented in 2015; to date, 46 paramedics from across the province have received the award.
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