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Durham paramedics win in national competition

Durham Region paramedics Matt Walton and Dale Button, joined by Paramedic Chief Troy Cheseboro, were named champions in the advanced paramedic division at the National Paramedic Competition in April. (Photo submitted)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Considering their history, it shouldn’t be surprising two Durham Region paramedics were the cream of the crop at a recent national skills competition.

Matt Walton and Dale Button emerged as champions of the advanced care paramedic division at the National Paramedic Competition held at Canada’s Wonderland in April.

The event featured paramedics from across the country in competition.

Founded in 2001, the one-day event features six tasks including a written exam and simulations of real-life emergency medical and trauma calls.

This is not the first occasion the two have teamed together.

“We went to college together and have competed for seven years,” he says.

The friendship that developed between the two naturally lead to a strong working relationship.

“We knew that we worked very well together. Both people have to be on the same page and I think that was part of it,” Button notes.

And the combination has proved successful, as prior to this year’s event the duo had already captured the national championships in both the paramedic student and primary care paramedic divisions.

As a certified advanced care paramedic, Button says he takes a “strong role” in the decision making, while Walton often offers a different perspective on the situations they face.

“He gives valuable insight. It’s much easier when we can talk about what is going on,” Button adds.

At the competition, paramedics face six different scenarios, which Button describes as “once in a lifetime calls.”

For example, one of the simulations presented an arborist falling out of a tree, impaling himself on a branch, while also cutting open an arterial vein on his leg and his eyeball detaching from the socket.

A second scenario featured an amusement park patron suffering a seizure while riding a rollercoaster and choking on his gum.

While calls of this magnitude are rare in real life, Button says it tests them as professionals.

“It challenges you to make decisions under pressure. A lot of it comes down to your innate ability to think quickly, prioritize and comes down to just being a quick paramedic,” Button adds.

Although they may never encounter these situations in real life, Button says the experience renders them better prepared and better paramedics overall.

Durham Region Paramedic Service Chief Troy Cheseboro calls Button and Walton’s win a proud moment for the entire department.

“Dale and Matt have proven that they are two of the best paramedics in the country, which makes RDPS very proud,” Chesboro says. “While we congratulate Dale and Matt for their remarkable accomplishment, RDPS is also just as proud of all of our paramedics who provide exemplary service to Durham Region residents on a daily basis.”