Aimee Campbell has held a lot of hands in the North Thompson Valley over the past 36 years. She’s given comfort to friends and strangers, risked her life to be by their side, and provided vital medical care to all.
The B.C. Ambulance Service (BCAS) was formed in 1974, and since 1978 Aimee has been saving lives with them as a paramedic.
Aimee was recruited in 1978 by Jack Patterson, the original BCAS unit chief in Barriere. Jack encouraged her to join up, and once signed up she quickly obtained her first aid certificate, and then added the Emergency Level 1 Medical Assistant requirement to become a paramedic.
Retired unit chief Tim Hoffman says, “Aimee has outlasted five unit chiefs in Barriere and is currently working with the sixth. She is number six in the seniority list for BCAS employees in the entire province, and recently received a 35 year award from BC Ambulance.”
Aimee says she has enjoyed her career as a paramedic, “I can honestly say it was pretty rewarding in a number of ways. But it was also pretty tough in a number of ways. No matter how bad it was though, you could make them [patients] feel comfortable. If I knew them, it helped to take their hand and say “It’s Aimee here, it’s going to be okay”.”
During the past 36 years of working for BC Ambulance Aimee says she has seen much change for the better. “Getting the drugs we needed in the field was a definite positive, as well as seeing backup wait times of one to two hours now being replaced with quick response from a helicopter.”
She notes that after the helicopter became part of the program, it was then taken away, and then was given back. “It’s great, but it only is available during daylight hours.”
Aimee adds, “Seeing ALS [Advanced Life Support] come in was another positive. Now ALS can come in when needed and give the drugs and monitoring that we can’t, especially in cardiac cases, and incubating serious trauma.”
The Barriere Ambulance Station covers the area from Little Fort to Heffley Creek and from Adams Lake to Bonapart. When asked about the concerns of area residents that the Barriere Ambulance also has to leave the community to service other communities, Aimee answered, “We have always shared our ambulance with other communities when their ambulance was not available, but it is happening more often now.”
Aimee says making a living as a paramedic on the ambulance is tough, due to the fact the job is only part time. “I feel all ambulance stations should be full time. The little communities are suffering, although Barriere is not so bad. You have to work lots of hours to make a living, or you go somewhere else where you can. All ambulance stations should be full time – no more volunteer time – people have to make a living.”
When it comes to volunteering, Aimee Campbell is no stranger. She has been an active member of Barriere Search and Rescue since it’s inception in the mid 1980’s, and says she fully intends to remain a part of that team.
Asked if retiring from the ambulance means she will no longer be working, Aimee said, “I gave it my all on the ambulance, but I’ve done my dues. I now have a job at Highland Valley and really enjoy it – I’m having fun. It feels good to be helping people, but now I wanted to do something different with my life – a different page.”
Hoffman says in appreciation of Aimee Campbell’s service as a part time paramedic to the community she has helped for well over three decades, there will be a get together with refreshments at the Barriere Ambulance Station on Thursday, March 27, between 12 noon to 3 p.m.
“Aimee is one of our most consistent and competent attendants in the years that I have been involved since 1988,” said Hoffman, “She has been a pillar and mentor to all the new attendants that have come through. After serving her community and the people of B.C. for 36 years, I wish her the best of luck in her retirement.”
Thanks Aimee, we appreciate all the times that you came to the aid of the people in the valley, and especially the times that you held our hands, and provided comfort for those in need.