Cheryl Spencer just celebrated her silver anniversary with the British Columbia Ambulance Service last month.
“It does feel long,” she said with a laugh. But despite the quarter century spent serving and healing the community of Terrace, Spencer shows no sign of slowing down yet.
She explained that her father was a first aid attendant and she had always been interested in first aid but it wasn’t until something went wrong that she realized being a paramedic was her calling.
With only a wilderness first aid course under her belt, Spencer came across a severe motorcycle accident.
“I knew enough not to move his head but I didn’t know what to do to help him because I couldn’t take his helmet off and he ended up dying,” she said, “I knew that if that happened again I needed to know what to do.”
After that, Spencer joined a high level first aid course to add to her first aid arsenal. In this class, she met some paramedics from the Terrace department who were renewing their tickets and they recommended she apply. She got the job on July 7, 1989, “and here I am 25 years later,” she said.
Spencer’s job is a difficult one to say the least, but it does have its perks. In this case, it’s her husband. Cheryl met her now-husband Scott Spencer when he was also a paramedic at the Terrace station.
The two met while working together, married have two daughters. Rylee, 15, aspires to be a psychologist and Amy, 20, hosts the Afternoon Drive show on a local radio station.
“After we had kids, we decided we shouldn’t be working together anymore; there was a really bad call and it scared both of us and we thought if anything had happened they would have lost both of us so we decided that we would never work together again,” Spencer said.
Spencer said that over her 25 years spent in service here she has seen a lot of changes. From the introduction of sleeping quarters to styles of training and CPR techniques, to the types and numbers of calls received. The Terrace BCAS receives 6,000 calls a year, she said.
Responding to that many calls could exhaust a person, but Spencer said it’s the feeling you get that keeps her motivated.
“It gives you that feeling that you did a good job and that you helped someone, you made someone feel better,” she said, “I want to be able to go out and help the people in my community.”
One of her favourite parts of the job is that she gets to see all the new up-and-comers. She recently hired a former colleague’s grandson, “that’s neat to see the younger kids coming up and through,” she said.
“Always keep your nose in a book. Everything is always changing, sometimes you’ll forget things, keep studying and keep up your skills,” she said, “you’ll never stop learning.”