Staff Profile: Ron Clarke - Communications Officer
July 10, 2023
10 July, 2023
Ronald Clarke is a dedicated Communications Officer at Ornge, a position he has held for the past seven years. With a strong background in aviation, including obtaining his pilot's license and working with various airlines, Ron brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role.
Justyn: Can you walk me through a typical workday for you?
Ron: When I come into work, I do a handoff from the previous shift. They give me a briefing regarding any anomalies, calls in progress, or anything I need to look out for or be aware of during my shift. The volume can be anywhere from 40 to 100 calls per day, of course distributed between the staff working. We usually have up to four call takers and four planners.
We have the rotor wing planner, fixed wing planner, standard agreement planner, and overflow who alleviates work from the other three planners. It’s usually 12 hour shifts as well. It took a lot of intensive training, a lot of required in-class hours, and we usually get placed on fixed wing to start because it is medium paced.
How did you start at Ornge? What made you want to work here?
I’ve been in the aviation field for a long time. I went to school for it and got my pilots license and then worked with different airlines after that. One of my old managers at one of the airlines worked three jobs at once and one of them was at Ornge. He recommended it to me; he knew I was looking for something more stable and challenging. I applied, interviewed, and got the job!
What is your favourite thing about working at Ornge?
The gratification that you get when you know that you’ve serviced the people of Ontario, when you move a patient or dispatch knowing it’s the most capable and fastest resource brings gratification. Whether I get to hear the story or not, knowing you’ve done a good deed for the day is great.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role, and how do you overcome them?
Before, the challenge was trying to not take on the stress of the calls that you hear. It’s hard not to when you first start, listening to the person on the phone or reading the information, sometimes it hits home, and it relates to something in your life. Fortunately - or maybe unfortunately - over time you get jaded. It's like a doctor working in emerge or a nurse working on the floor, after a while you get immune to the things you see and experience. You just keep pushing through and understand that it’s a part of life and that you have to do your job at the end of the day.
What are some personal or professional motivations that help you excel in your role?
I personally value conducting myself in a professional manner, no matter what type of job it is. Treating everyone with respect and being helpful to the people on the phone and the people I work with. It motivates me to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, the way I want to be treated. Professionally, I come from a customer service background too, so the purpose of listening to the patient, pilot, or medic needs and working with them to get the job done is a big motivation.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a Communications Officer at Ornge one day?
I’ve had different walks of life and people with different experiences apply for the job. I’m not sure if having only one avenue of training or employment works for this type for role, it’s very intricate. It deals with aviation and some medical aspects; someone may excel if they have both but it’s very rare to find someone with both. I recommend anyone that is trying to be a planner be aviation savvy. We can all calculate in our heads the distance travelled in a time period given the speed, we know the airport codes, and we know the province well; it’s a huge asset. Those are definitely hard skills, as for soft skills you would need to be able to work well in a group, communicate well, and multitask. The volume here is so high and you’re tasked to speak on the phone and type at the same time while listening to the room. You also need to have a good work ethic, there are going to be a lot of things that you’re asked to do even though you might think it’s beyond what you’re supposed to
At Ornge, our staff work every day around the clock to ensure the patients of Ontario receive the best care available. Learn more about the people behind #teamornge.