Five Oxford County residents receive exemplary service medals

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Five residents of Oxford County are among the recent recipients of the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal for their work as paramedics.

Brandon Wise, Dianna Parsons, Johanna Hampson-Ducharme, all of Norwich, and Tracey Clayton of Ingersoll, are paramedics with Oxford County Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Lori Vermeersch, who also lives in Norwich, is a paramedic with the Lambton County EMS.

The group was gathered with their peers at this year's ceremony hosted by the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs in Ottawa Sept. 28.

The medals were created in 1994 to recognize professionals who provide pre-hospital emergency medical services to the public, who have performed their duties in an exemplary manner, in good conduct, industry and efficiency and have completed at least 20 years of service, according to the website of the Governor General of Canada.

Each of the paramedics was honoured to receive the medal.

“It was really nice to be recognized by so many peers that you know,” said Vermeersch, who has been a paramedic since 1994, and was previously a police officer. “I think that every paramedic is deserving of this award.”

Vermeersch was coincidentally in the same graduating class at Fanshawe College as Clayton, who said she felt fortunate to be included along with her colleagues, with whom she is proud to work.

“During my career, I have been blessed to be part of an EMS family that has highly-trained and dedicated paramedics serving their communities,” said Clayton.

Wise said he has been a paramedic for 26 years – part of that time with Norfolk County – and still enjoys what he does.

“It certainly isn't repetitive,” he said. “You get to meet lots of good people, sometimes not at their best of times, but it's nice to think that you're helping.”

Parsons said though no paramedic does their job expecting to receive a thank you, it was a great experience at the medal ceremony.

“In this line of work, there's just not a lot of time to pause on the job and hear a thank you, because of the nature of the job,” she said. “When you do get one, it's extra special.”

Parsons and Hampson-Ducharme have been partners on the job for more than 15 years, so for both to receive the medal at the same time meant a lot.

“We have witnessed so much together over the years, it only seems fitting that we received this medal together, too,” said Hampson-Ducharme. “I could do this job without her, but I'm glad I don't have to. It truly is a great feeling serving Oxford County and especially the Township of Norwich.”