WINDSOR, N.S. — Say hello to Les Card, a paramedic based in Hants County who was also celebrating his birthday on the day the interview took place.
Card has been a first responder since he was 14, when he signed on as a junior volunteer firefighter in Mount Uniacke. He said he gets a lot of satisfaction from helping his fellow emergency personnel get through tough times as a member of the employee assistance program.
“I grew up in Sackville until I was 12 when I moved to Mount Uniacke, so I consider myself a Hants County folk. This is my home, my stomping ground, so I’m honoured to be able to serve within it. It makes me laugh when I speak to some of my city colleagues and I’ll point at the cow field down the street, Payzant Road, and say that cow field was where I went to high school. That makes me laugh. I live in Riverside now, just outside of Summerville. I’ve been a paramedic since 2010. I was fortunate enough to get my diploma and get hired within a month. My current role is a primary care paramedic, and I’m also a member of the employee assistance program, we call ourselves peer and family support services.”
“If somebody is having a bad day or something, they can contact me or any of my colleagues on the peer team and we just give them an open ear to talk to or refer them to mental health professionals. We’re activated by dispatchers a lot if there’s a bad call and their spidey senses tingle — maybe there’s one member on the response team that needs help, then we step in. I’ve talked to anyone from regional managers to student paramedics, that’s where my heart is. To prevent or alleviate PTSD and critical incident stress. We try to do the debriefings, defusings for that stuff.”
“My wife and I live on a hobby farm out in Riverside, so we’ve got three horses, three dogs, three cats, and four chickens. That’s my decompress. If I have a really bad day I come home, wrap my arms around the horse's neck and just give him a hug. As foolish as that sounds, that just makes me feel at ease. Even just grabbing a curry comb and grooming one of my horses or even cleaning the stalls, it’s cathartic to me.”
“When I was a volunteer with Mount Uniacke, I did a call, I can’t even remember what the complaint was, but I took the initiative with some of my fellow firefighters and moved the furniture aside, to let the stretcher in. To me it was such a benign thing. After the medics left we rearranged the furniture to the spot it was in. Repeatedly the family members came up to me afterwards, thanking us, just for replacing the furniture, it meant so much to them. It humbles me to think that such small things can go so far. You can see, my voice is cracking talking about this. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I’m very passionate about this.”
After a little more than two years as an ongoing feature, this is the final installment of Hants' Faces Friday.
The editorial staff would like to thank the people who welcomed us into their homes, work sites, and places of refuge to keep this project going week after week. We hope that our readers have learned a little bit about the people who live here — what makes them tick, what their passions are and what struggles they face.
It has been our pleasure to tell their stories.
Of course, this isn’t truly the end — we’ll continue to publish human interest stories on a regular basis, just in a different form.
Faces Friday was our weekly online feature highlighting members of our community: their strength, their challenges and their humanity. The profiles can still be viewed online at hantsjournal.ca.