DAN CEARNS, The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: In late May, Kawartha Lakes paramedic Beatrice Frasca received a unique honour, from the Ontario provincial government, the Ontario Medal of Paramedic Bravery.
Ms. Frasca was one of ten paramedics, across the province, to receive the medal, from Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, at a ceremony event, on Wednesday, May 24th.
“It was quite surprising, initially, just hearing about the award in general. It’s not very common paramedics receive awards, let alone awards of that kind of calibre and high esteem,” Ms. Frasca told The Standard. “It was a huge honour. It was just a lot of emotions all at once, and it meant a lot. It was very important to me, and my friends who were with me, at the time.”
An Ontario government press release explained the actions Ms. Frasca took to make her eligible for this honour.
“On October 20th, 2021, off-duty Advanced Care Paramedic, Beatrice Frasca was enjoying a hike with her friends, at Bruce Peninsula National Park, when she noticed a group of men preparing to cliff jump, from the Grotto into the water below. While dangerous in even ideal weather conditions, the water currents that day were strong and cold enough to induce sudden shock. In spite of Ms. Frasca’s shouted warnings, the men jumped. Two emerged, but one was unresponsive. Risking their own safety, Beatrice and a friend quickly climbed down the steep and slippery cliff edge to rescue the unconscious man. They dragged him back to the shore, and Ms. Frasca provided care until emergency services arrived. Despite their brave efforts, the man did not survive, but their quick actions were able to assist the two other men, who were suffering from cold exposure.”
Ms. Frasca explained her thought process, during that moment in October. “My friends and I were well-versed on how dangerous that area was. So, when we saw them preparing [to jump], we all said amongst ourselves, ‘This is an awful decision. They really shouldn’t be doing this.’ And that’s why we all yelled to them,” the local paramedic said. “When they did decide to jump, it still sounded quite jovial and like they were still excited. So, amongst ourselves, we still thought it was a really bad decision, but at least everything [seemed] okay. Obviously, things changed, and work mode just kicked in.”
Ms. Frasca feels this was a right place, right time situation for her and her friends. “As much as no one wants to witness something like that, I think it was very useful that myself, another off-duty paramedic and an off-duty nurse all, not only witnessed the incident but, were able to act relatively quickly. Should there have been other people there, who did not work in healthcare or emergency services, it may have been a very long delay before paramedics were called or a very long delay of the individual being brought out of the water.”
She was told, in April, she would be receiving an award at a ceremony in Toronto. “It wasn’t until I got an email, a few days later, with all of the information that me and my Chief both agreed this was kind of a big deal. It was a bigger award than I had anticipated.”
Since the Queen’s Park ceremony, Ms. Frasca has reported, she has “had a lot of people asking to see” the medal.
“Overall, there also has been a lot of reflection. When the incident happened, it was one of those things, where we did what we had to do and moved on. And now that it has been a year and a half; discussing the incident and everything which has happened, has [taken place] countless times over the past week. Certainly more times than in the year and a half prior [to the incident].”