Awards and medals
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada presented the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division) to 45 recipients, including to Springwater’s Richard James Armstrong, M.S.M. on Nov. 25, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall. PHOTO: Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG
Two very prestigious honours have been awarded to two very distinguished area residents.
University of Toronto dean and Georgian College board member Marilynn Booth was named one of the Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women of 2016 by the Women’s Executive Network.
Richard Armstrong, the founder of the Association of Paramedic Chiefs, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Gov. Gen. David Johnston in Ottawa on Friday.
“It makes you proud to be Canadian,” Armstrong said from his Midhurst home, Monday.
Armstrong said he was notified of the award, but not who nominated him, last spring.
“I was surprised. Totally,” he said.
Meritorious Service Decorations were established to recognize the extraordinary people who are known for their innovation and who set an example for others to follow.
Armstrong began his career as a paramedic in Hamilton in 1970 and by 1973 he had advanced to become the clinical instructor of the advanced-care paramedic class. By 1974, Armstrong was regional manager of the Emergency Health Services branch of the Ministry of Health and over the next 25 years, he helped write the initial regulations of the Ambulance Act. He also oversaw the handover of the ambulance program from municipalities to provincial governance under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
During his years at the helm, paramedics were called to evacuate more than 1,500 patients from several Mississauga hospitals after a train carrying poisonous chemicals derailed in 1979.
More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes for several weeks, but Armstrong said transporting the critical patients between hospitals outside the evacuation zone fell under his jurisdiction.
“We learned how to do it as we did it. It became clear very early on, that hospitals were very reluctant to send the charts with the patients because of confidentiality. But it was vital information and we had to work that out,” he said.
The next year, Armstrong was called into action again when St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton experienced an electrical fire and hundreds of patients, including those from the intensive care unit and the cardiac floor, had to be evacuated.
“In Mississauga, they had cancelled all surgeries because of the derailment. But the electrical fire in St. Joseph’s was a problem because they had been doing surgeries that day,” he said.
Armstrong said he also worked long days in the command centre during the ice storm in Ontario and Quebec in 1998.
For her part, Booth has been awarded for her ability to lead at the academic level as dean of the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, for her previous dozen years as dean of the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University and as a tenured professor of nursing.
The Top 100 awards celebrate the professional achievements of strong female leaders across the country in private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
Being named one of Canada’s Top100 Women in the PwC Public Sector Leaders category, Booth says she accepted the award on behalf of her colleagues in the continuing studies program.
Booth said she believes her forte has been her ability to offer programs people want and need to further their careers.
“Increasingly, we find people are learning differently, either online, or if we offer two Saturday classes and then finish up online it helps with their busy lives,” Booth said. “Today, young people are learning on their electronic devices. We had to create hybrid courses that work for them.”
Under her leadership, annual enrolments have tripled and revenues have more than tripled.
“If you listen to learners, they’ll tell you how they want to learn. So we based our certificates based on their needs,” she said.
Booth was the first woman in 125 years to become the chairperson of the board of directors at Lakefield College School and worked to advance continuing education across the globe in countries including Jamaica, Mexico, Bolivia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates.
In two weeks, Booth will retire from university life and plans to spend her free time at their home in Wasaga Beach, as a board member on several local boards, as well as help out with her 10 grandchildren.