A Day in the Life: Pharmacy
October 17, 2023
17 October, 2023
Today we are celebrating National Pharmacy Technician Day with our dedicated Paramedic Operations team.
Ornge’s 13 bases cover all one million square kilometres of Ontario’s vast and diverse landscapes. To be mission ready at a moments notice, all bases are required to have a constant stock of medications, medical equipment, and aviation parts.
Our new pharmacy and equipment warehouse, located in Oakville, Ontario, works behind the scenes to ensure each base has the supplies they need to save lives. We recently had an opportunity to visit the warehouse, managed by Jonathan Alexander – Manager of Paramedic Support, to speak with Catherine Dawes, Ornge’s Pharmacy Technician, and Amanda Flint, Medical Inventory and Equipment Coordinator, about a typical day supporting our front line.
Catherine and Amanda begin their days by checking their e-mails and reviewing any order requests they may have from our bases. Throughout the year, they will receive multiple orders per week from each base. Each order begins by gathering the supplies in the warehouse or pharmacy and accounting for the departing materials on their inventory sheets.
One of Catherine's medicine drawers.
“In a typical hospital or retail pharmacy setting, the pharmacists are constantly on their feet and can work late nights or on weekends. I’m lucky to be able to work in my own space and organize things to how I like them with more of a typical work schedule.” – Catherine Dawes, Pharmacy Technician.
The biggest challenge facing the bases are supply issues. Since COVID-19, many supplies and medications have not been readily available, leaving Catherine and Amanda with delays. If a certain medication is unavailable, Catherine has to try to source a similar medication as a replacement.
“If I can’t get a hold of a certain drug in time, I try to find the same one by a different manufacturer or if it is a preload, it may have to be switched to a vial. Our final option is usually to find a replacement, but it can be a hassle. It might require the paramedics to be trained on that substance or it may cause procedural challenges.”
Although supplies may be hard to come by at times, the warehouse remains stocked with equipment to support the frontline. Prior to 2023, all of Ornge’s equipment and pharmaceuticals were stored at the Mississauga head office and offsite storage locations.
The new warehouse has made Catherine and Amanda’s lives much easier. But their favourite part of the new location is getting to work with each other every day.
“Catherine is my next-door neighbour here; we eat lunch together every day. I couldn’t ask for a better team.” – Amanda Flint, Medical Inventory and Equipment Coordinator.