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    Canadian master corporal expands horizons

    Canadian master corporal expands horizons

    Photo By 2nd Lt. Kali Gradishar | Canadian Master Cpl. Sebastien Lepage, New Horizons medical technician deployed from...... read more read more

    PUNTA GORDA, Belize - A Canadian master corporal deployed from the 16th Field Ambulance in Saskatchewan, Canada, is expanding his own horizons as a medical technician for New Horizons Belize 2014.

    New Horizons is an annual exercise held in Central America, South America or the Caribbean that offers international partners an opportunity to train to deploy while operating in a humanitarian capacity. The exercise incorporates medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETEs, along with civil engineering construction projects throughout the select country.

    In Belize, Master Cpl. Sebastien Lepage is applying his extensive training and experience during the MEDRETEs held in the southern Toledo District. Even with considerable knowledge, however, Lepage is still finding much to discover.

    "I'm learning lots of different things every day, even medically speaking," Lepage said, relaying his recent hands-on education in steroidal injections or maneuvering scar tissue from a cesarean section to ease abdominal pain. "We don't deal with those kinds of patients typically at our bases. I'm learning a lot more outside of my scope than I'm used to."

    Typically, the master corporal and his home unit handle less family-related medical concerns.

    "I'm part of a unit that supports multiple units: engineers, infantry, artillery, and our service or supply. We support them medically, so every time we go to a range and do live fire, especially, or they want general med support there, we're the ones who go. ... The nice thing about us is we're so diversely trained. I can work with pharmacists. I can work with the ER docs. I'm trained basically for the field and for clinical.

    "Here, I'm part of a three-person Canadian team. ... Myself as a med tech, my primary role is to support the other doctors, although the doctor has been great with me and allowing me a little independence," Lepage added. "What I'll do is I'll grab a patient, and I'll do an assessment on them; and if it's within my scope of practice, I'll provide the treatment - either medication or whatever it happens to be. If not, I'll do a hand over to a doctor and basically shadow them for a little while to see if there's anything else I can help with."

    Lepage has studied hard and gone through extensive training in order to effectively assess a person's medical needs, as well as to act on those needs as he is able. With an EMT certification, plus his military training, Lepage is trained in pre-hospital and clinical skills. It's all that training he's been able to apply as he provides medical care to Belizean people, as well as assists other doctors with care outside of his current capacity.

    "I don't really have previous experience, but I can say that after the first day I felt like all this training and all this build-up has finally paid off. It felt really worthwhile to do what I could," Lepage said. "This is actually my first humanitarian mission, which is a big reason why I'm so excited to be here. From the moment I joined, this is all I wanted to do.

    "Deep down, I just wanted to help people," he added.

    Beyond being able to help people, Lepage said two other joys of this exercise are the weather and the children.

    As part of a Canadian unit, Lepage is no stranger to the cold. His brigade is delegated with Arctic sovereignty, so Arctic and cold-weather exercises are fairly frequent. Belize has been a nice reprieve from that cold, according to Lepage.

    "I'll be honest, I've lived in Canada my whole life, and I hate the cold. ...This heat (in Belize) is amazing," Lepage said. "And the kids. It's hard not to love those kids. The big smiles on their faces.

    "There've been lots of things for me to be excited about," he added. "I'm grateful to be here."



    Date Taken: 05.08.2014
    Date Posted: 05.09.2014 14:16
    Story ID: 129353
    Location: PUNTA GORDA, BZ 
    Hometown: REGINA, SK, CA

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