SEIU Healthcare is proud to recognize two of our paramedics, Marie Sopko and Ched Zivic, who recently won the Ontario Award for Paramedic Bravery for a house fire they responded to last year. In October 2019, the awards for 2017 and 2018 were announced and given to 13 paramedics for their acts of courage whether it was on the job or off-duty.
Ched Zivic is the second from the left and Marie Sopko is beside him to the right.
Marie and Ched were the first to arrive at the scene of the fire on January 13, 2018. “The fire was in the patient’s living room because a woodstove had been knocked over and was setting his carpet on fire,” says Marie. “There was also a fire on the back porch as the patient was throwing embers and pieces of wood onto the porch.” They later discovered that the fire was caused by a gun powder explosion, initially they were told that it was a woodstove explosion as the entire living area was in complete disarray.
When Marie and Ched first saw the patient, they observed that he had burns to the face, which caused a lot of concerns because they believed it could potentially affect his airways. The patient also had burns on his hands that were caused from grabbing the piping hot embers and enflamed wood pieces out of the woodstove and throwing them outside.
At first, the homeowner did not want to leave the premises because he worried that his entire house was going to catch fire. Marie and Ched were able to put out the flames promptly with fire extinguishers once they identified the source. Once the homeowner saw the fire was out, he was a little more willing to exit his home to receive some help. They took small steps, walked him through the process, and they were finally able to get him to the ambulance. Both the homeowner and the other individual in the home survived, today they continue to rebuild their log cabin.
Marie has been a full-time paramedic for 16 years in Haldimand and 17 years as a part-time paramedic in Brant. She wanted a career that both her and her children can be extremely proud of. When she went back to school to become a paramedic, she was a single mother and tried to share her journey with her daughter. She says that it was very challenging but well worth it.
To all those who want to become a paramedic, Marie’s advice is that, “being a paramedic is a rewarding and wonderful career, but the nature of the job can change you. There will be days where you experience a bad call, and it is okay to not be okay and ask for help.” Marie has had 18 very rewarding years and some terrible calls along the way, but she would not change a thing.
Everyday paramedics wear different hats, they never know what to expect when they arrive to a scene, but no matter what the situation is they must be ready. SEIU Healthcare is honoured to represent so many courageous paramedics all across the province. We thank all our paramedics for their hard work and dedication to such a challenging profession.
Marie dedicates this award and this story to their co-worker who recently passed away, and to all the fallen paramedics.