EMTs salute their comrade
Procession, memorial service remember paramedic killed on duty
Andrea Sands, edmonton journal.com
Published: Saturday, March 31, 2007
About 100 uniformed emergency-services workers from across Canada marched in solidarity Saturday to honour the first Alberta paramedic in decades who has died in the line of duty.
In a poignant tribute during the kilometre-long procession, emergency medical technician Kevin Rosenthal, 28, carried a paramedic's hat to represent his fallen friend and colleague Michael Jolin, a respected operations supervisor killed three weeks ago.
Rosenthal also delivered one of three eulogies to remember Jolin, 31, during the service in the University of Alberta Butterdome.
Jolin died March 11 while working at an oilfield site near Fox Creek, 265 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. The Ponoka father of two young boys, seven and five months old, had left his mobile treatment centre to direct a tanker unit that was backing up when he was pinned between the tanker and a small trailer unit.
Jolin was an emergency medical technician, or EMT, for HSE Integrated, a company with 650 employees that provides safety personnel, training and equipment to companies across Canada.
Jolin's widow issued a statement that she was overwhelmed by the support and respect for her family demonstrated by the 300 people who attended the service.
More than 100 emergency-services workers came to the memorial service from Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
"It was impressive," Jennifer Jolin said. "It really helped me to know that I have the support of all of them."
About 30 members of Jolin's family attended the service organized by the Alberta College of Paramedics with help from two Edmonton-based paramedics.
At the family's request, the college asked reporters not to enter the public service where the lineup of speakers included Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong and Health Minister Dave Hancock.
The head of the college, Tom Jahelka, expressed his condolences to the Jolin family in a eulogy delivered during the service. In a copy of his speech later provided to The Journal, Jahelka said it was Jolin's generosity and willingness to help others that led to his ultimate sacrifice.
"Michael Jolin's death is a reminder to all emergency medical personnel about the sacrifice and dangers of our profession, regardless of where you practise or who your employer is," Jahelka said.
"To work in emergency services takes a special kind of individual. We often put our lives on the line for complete strangers. It is not a career that brings fame, glory or money - the satisfaction comes from serving your country and fellow man."
Outside the service, HSE employee Heather Roblee said Jolin would have been happy to see so many colleagues attending his memorial. Roblee was one of several HSE staffers who joined the uniformed procession.
"It's sad to lose one of our own. He was one of the best we had. We'll miss him."
"It was a shock to everybody," said Kevin Davey, an HSE employee and Beaumont firefighter and emergency medical technician.
Chris Mansell, an EMT in Slave Lake, worked with Jolin briefly in Ponoka in 2000 and went to school with him in Edmonton. Jolin had one young son at the time.
"He was a very happy guy. He always had a huge smile," Mansell recalled. "He was always talking about his boy. He was a proud dad.
"We haven't really had that kind of history in Alberta, for a paramedic to die in the line of duty."
Jolin is believed to be the first Alberta paramedic killed on duty since the mid-1970s, said Dave MacLean, Saturday's parade commander and commanding officer of the Edmonton paramedic guard of honour. The 24-person unit was at Jolin's funeral in Ponoka two weeks ago.
"This is our way of honouring someone's commitment to emergency medical services, and we do this all across Canada," said MacLean.
"It just reminds us how dangerous the work that we do really is."