Gilberto, an EMT Paramedic, provided urgent treatment to patients in emergencies and worked on ambulances for fifteen years in his home country of Mexico. Also a physicist, Gilberto received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the largest public university in his country. Despite his dual skills, Gilberto worked in the physics field for less than a year because he knew his calling was to help others.
Gilberto expressed that he was tired of the crowds and traffic in Mexico to a childhood friend, who recommended a move to Saskatoon. When applying for immigration, Gilberto looked into Ontario as his destination. Upon recognizing the employment difficulties and cost of living in larger Canadian cities, however, Saskatchewan seemed ideal.
In the fall of 2012, Gilberto and his wife made the long car trip to Saskatoon from Mexico City. They didn’t let adverse weather conditions deter their travel and arrived safely to their new home and country.
“Before coming to Canada, I found out that I was not going to be able to work as a paramedic without a license. I learned this through the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics, the licensing body for paramedics in the province,” recalls Gilberto.
Being aware of this reality, Gilberto didn’t look for a job as a paramedic after arriving in Canada. However, he needed to work to be capable of paying the cost of living in his new country. Luckily, Gilberto found a job almost immediately delivering furniture.
Although Gilberto was earning money, he longed to re-enter the paramedic field. “I went to Saskatchewan Polytechnic thinking I needed to enroll in a program to receive Canadian training before writing the licensing exam. Instead, they told me to go to the College of Paramedics [SCoP].”
There, Gilberto was told that in order to begin the licencing process, he needed a credential assessment. At the time, he didn’t have money to spare. So, he made a plan to save enough money to afford the licensing process.
Not long after visiting SCoP’s office, Gilberto was looking through a series of brochures he received at Sask Polytech and found one from Windmill Microlending. He contacted the office to learn more. Gilberto applied for a loan in 2013. The loan helped him pay for the credential assessment and some of the mandatory courses he needed to take before receiving his license.
Once his credentials were assessed and his courses completed, Gilberto’s next requirement was to ride along in an ambulance in Saskatchewan. It was the best way for Gilberto to observe how Canadian paramedics treat and manage patients.
After a couple of weeks participating in an ambulance ride-along, Gilberto was suited to take the licensing exam. At that time, there were three levels of practice: basic, intermediate and advanced. “Each level had a different exam, and SCoP gave you the license according to your level. I took the advanced exam, passed it and obtained the license. Nowadays, it’s a completely different process,” adds Gilberto.
The licensing process, from start to finish, took Gilberto approximately a year. With license in hand, and after almost two years delivering furniture, Gilberto quit his job and started working full-time as a paramedic in a company providing ambulance services to a number of towns around Saskatoon.
“Getting the Windmill loan was very easy and helped me out a lot. I could save (some) money and not be forced into a strict budget. Without the loan, it’d have been harder and taken more time for me to become a licensed paramedic in Canada,” recalls Gilberto.
Today, Gilberto and his wife live in Wakaw, Saskatchewan. Five years after receiving his Canadian license, he’s still working at the same company as a paramedic: a job that’s at the same professional level as the one he held in Mexico.
“Being able to work as a paramedic in Canada is great. It’s pretty cool doing what you like to do,” affirms Gilberto.