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Paramedicine graduate is saving lives

Paramedicine graduate Blair Bigham heading to work the night shift in York Region

When he has to crawl under a flipped car on the highway at 3 o’clock in the morning, all of his previous classroom training and emergency simulations become reality for Blair Bigham. Now an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedic, he is prepared for any life or death situation. 

Eager to start his career in saving lives, Bigham graduated from the paramedicine joint-program at the University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College in 2006.  He is currently working as an advanced care paramedic in York Region and at the Toronto City Centre Airport on the helicopter. 

“The mix of theoretical and practical training allowed me to apply all the knowledge I gained in university to the practical clinical scenarios available at Centennial College,” Bigham said. “The hospital and field residences provided me the chance to speak to real patients and apply everything I was learning to the real-world environment.” 

Bigham also completed a Master’s of Science degree and works at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto in the Rescu program, part of the University of Toronto’s pre-hospital and resuscitation research program, which offers exciting and relevant topics in paramedicine. 

Emergency work is challenging and rewarding, but the fast pace and high stakes mean that it is not a career field for everyone, he adds. Bigham explained how the role-playing in school provided an important learning component of the paramedic courses offered at Centennial College. Instructors often run simulations where students role play scenarios to help diagnose symptoms of a heart attack, appendicitis or an overdose on drugs among many others. 

“Trying to role-play effectively makes the simulation seem real, which is really beneficial to the students acting in the role of the attending paramedics,” Bigham said. 

His decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in paramedicine through the joint program was due to the increasingly competitive nature of the job market in the emergency field, he says. The mixture of academic and applied learning gave him an edge, he explains,  and he hopes in future to be able to conduct studies in clinical care and public policy. 

“Saving lives is the best job in the whole world,” Bigham said. “Having a degree in paramedicine has helped me accomplish many goals in a short period of time.” 


The joint programs combine the best in university and college education bringing together exceptional faculty at the forefront of their fields and real experience in cutting-edge environments. Get a head start on your career. Visit www.utsc.utoronto.ca/jtprogs




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