Shianna Wedrick, a student in the Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physical Therapist Assistant (OTA/PTA) program at Medicine Hat College, was in a lab when she received a call that would change the trajectory of her, and her family’s, life.
Her father and brother were in critical care in Calgary after battling wildfires outside of the small towns of Tompkins and Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.
“They had helped to go fight the fires at one of our neighbors’ places and got caught up in the blaze. They were trying to leave, veered off the road and into the ditch where the truck was engulfed in flames.”
The two were able to escape thanks to a safety app used by her father’s employer and a passerby who saw the reflectors on his coveralls. Unfortunately, the two had been severely burned.
Wedrick spent many weeks at Calgary Foothills Medical Centre supporting her family, and confesses that had it not been for the incident, she may not have continued on her career path.
Merely two weeks prior to the accident, she questioned whether the program was a fit for her. It wasn’t until her education and personal struggles intertwined that she reestablished a passion for occupational and physical therapy and saw first-hand the importance of the professions and the role of the OTA/PTA with patients.
Wedrick was there when her father started to walk again and saw the impact physical therapy had on his recovery.
Wedrick mentions that she is thankful for the support of her community and the college.
“It was crazy how much our community supported us. They were driving up to the hospital, even to just sit in the waiting room with my mom or sister-in-law, just to be there in case we needed something or someone to talk to. It was incredible.”
Wedrick’s instructors were also very supportive during this difficult time.
“When it happened, I was in Calgary for two weeks, but my instructors were really good. They told me not to worry about exams or assignments, that they could be rescheduled. When I returned they pulled me aside to make sure I was okay. I was just one of the students they were teaching but they really did care. They showed they cared and were willing to help in any way possible.”
Eventually, with her brother and father’s blessing, she returned to Medicine Hat on weekdays to finish her education.
Although the back and forth was difficult, Wedrick persevered and did what it took to complete her courses.
Wedrick reports that her father is home, and brother is out of the hospital in Calgary doing physiotherapy. She is currently finishing a practicum in Saskatchewan and looks forward to using her experience to better the lives of her clients.
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