People of Georgian: One comment changed the course of Paramedic student’s life

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Dustyn Paton

It kind of happened by fluke.

I grew up on Six Nations of the Grand River in a very low-income situation, and I never really had any dreams or aspirations to go to college or do anything to better myself.

I always thought I’d like to be a doctor, but nobody in my family had gone to college or university or had a job outside of physical labour.

A person with brown hair and dressed in a paramedic uniform sits in the back of an ambulance with two children on their lap, all of them smiling at the camera.
Dustyn with his sons.

So, to me, I thought it would be cool to be a doctor but I didn’t have the means to do it.

I wanted to take the easy way out. I just thought, “I’ll work in a factory, I’ll work at a gas station.”

But when I was in high school, I met a girl and her mom was a teacher.

This girl and I had been dating for six or eight months when her mom asked me what I wanted to do after high school.

I said, “Oh, I’ll just work as a gas driller or something like that.” She said, “If you’re going to date my daughter you’re going to do something more with your life than working on a gas drilling rig.”

At the time, I thought this girl was my “forever girl,” so I thought, “OK, I guess I’m going to college!”

I connected with Six Nation’s education department and my high school’s guidance counsellor.

Eight people wearing orange shirts and blue face masks sit in chairs in a small airplane.
Dustyn, second from right, was part of Operation Remote Immunity, where he helped administer COVID-19 vaccinations in remote Indigenous communities in northern Ontario.

I filled out a job aptitude test, and doctor, nurse and paramedic came up, so I signed up for a couple co-op courses with the local paramedics and a physiotherapy clinic. Back then, they would allow co-op students to ride with paramedics on the ambulance.

The physiotherapy co-op didn’t work out because I didn’t like being stuck indoors all day. I liked being out and about and doing things that were exciting.

For the paramedic co-op, we responded to a car accident on my first shift, and I was hooked.

‘It changed the course of my life’

I found Georgian and did the Pre-health program first, then the Primary Care Paramedic program. Here I am back doing the Advanced Care Paramedic program at Georgian

I’ve enjoyed every minute of being a paramedic. I go to work with a smile on my face every day.

I just love the job; I never have a day where I regret my decision.

The girlfriend, whose mother pushed me toward postsecondary, didn’t last though.

But I’m extremely grateful for the shove in the right direction. It changed the course of my life.

Dustyn Paton, a student in Georgian’s Advanced Care Paramedic program and alumnus from Georgian’s Primary Care Paramedic program (class of 2009).

This summer, Dustyn helped administer COVID-19 vaccinations as part of Operation Remote Immunity, a program developed between Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Ornge, the province’s provider of air ambulance and critical care transport services. Stay tuned to our website and social media to read more about his experiences.

Want to share your story? Please contact

Our categories