Lloyd Cresswell has seen life’s sunrises and he’s seen life’s sunsets.
His is a job like no other which works since the 46-year-old Whitby resident is a paramedic like no other.
The Toronto EMS’s Paramedic of the Year was among those recognized at First Responders Awareness Night at the Raptors game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Friday.
First Responders Awareness Night is held to boost familiarity with Toronto’s three emergency services, police, fire and emergency medical services.
Cresswell came to the helping sciences naturally. His mother was a nurse. His dad worked as a technical worker for Bell Canada.
“It was the perfect background for a paramedic,” he said.
Still, it took him a while to find his niche. Cresswell earned a degree in sports medicine but never entered the field.
“What I found was that I was interested in helping the athletes at the scene but I wasn’t someone who loved the clinical work,” he said.
He went back to school and earned his paramedics papers.
Since then he has delivered countless babies and worked to revive more cardiac arrest patients than he could count. When he began, his job was to put a heart attack victim on a stretcher, apply oxygen and race to the hospital. New procedures and medications mean he can revive as many as one in ten heart attack sufferers.
“That’s the best part of the job, attending to someone who improves so quickly they walk out of the hospital,” he said.
He has boatloads of stories: the one about the Karaoke singer who woke up humming the song he had been singing just before suffering a heart attack; the woman who couldn’t get her toe out of her bathtub spigot; the cardiac arrest victims who sit bolt upright after being revived.
He has learned two things. Neither, he said, is particularly surprising.
People are often too involved in what they are doing to stop and savour life. The best way to treat people is the way you would want to be treated.
Emergency workers savor the victories and work through the defeats. Every responder learns to cope with the losses, the better to be ready for the next victories.
“People say you get hardened but I wouldn’t call it that,” he said. “You talk with your partner sometimes and that’s very important but you always have to be ready to give the next call your absolute best.”