By Andrea Arnold
Thirty five years ago, Glen Frear responded to an ad that then-BC Paramedic McBride Unit Chief Bill Arnold had run in the paper.
“They were looking for more paramedics,” said Frear. “I needed a way to make some extra money, so I thought I’d try it out.”
Prior to seeing that ad, being part of the emergency response team in the Robson Valley hadn’t been something that Frear had seriously considered. He had watched firefighter and paramedic shows on TV, and thought they were interesting, but that was it.
Frear was in his first month of involvement with the detachment when his first bad call came in. It was how he processed what he had seen and experienced that told him that he had what it took to do the job.
“If you can make it past your first really bad call, you’re probably in it for the long haul,” said Frear.
He was exposed to death at a young age, and developed a view on mortality that has helped him in his paramedic career.
“Everyone has a set time,” he said. “You can’t blame yourself in a situation with an unhappy ending.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Frear. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Frear had a lot going on. He found it hard to fit shifts in between his other commitments, and the overall structure of the organization was changing. During that time frame, he had thoughts of stepping away from the job. He made it through this challenging stretch and came out on the other side with a renewed interest and a second wind.
“I really enjoy doing it,” he said. “It’s kinda fun to drive code three down the highway.”
On a more serious note, Frear said it is satisfying when a call goes well, and things end alright.
“You’ve done something to make someone’s life better.”
On the calls that do not have happy endings, Frear has been able to put it behind him and move on. He is able to separate what the responder part sees from the rest of his life.
“I don’t let it live with me,” he said.
For those who are thinking that working as a first responder might be for them, Frear says that it can be really rewarding, but at the same time it can be difficult. Much of the time the calls involve transporting patients to Prince George for a higher level of care. He says it isn’t often the gruesome scene people see on TV.
At a presentation in Vancouver on Tues Sept. 27 Frear was presented with recognition of his 35 years served. As those being recognized for 25, and 30 years were called onto the stage, Frear said he was lulled into a routine of clapping to honour the others.
“When my name was called, it got a bit overwhelming,” he said. “It was a neat experience. My sister came over from the island to be there with me.”