When paramedic Mike Mountan slides into the driver’s seat of the ambulance at Station 133 in Tahsis, he’s often sitting with someone he knows very well — his wife of 30 years, Virginia.
“It’s definitely been a journey,” Mountan told CHEK News Thursday. “I saw a need and I wanted to help my community.”
The journey began during a nine-day power outage that affected a huge area of the west coast in January 2022.
Virginia is the Unit Chief at the Tahsis ambulance station and Mike was volunteering, doing everything he could to keep the power on for the paramedics.
He was retiring from a career in road building in the logging industry and thought since he was at the station so much he might as well train to become a paramedic.
So at the age of 54, he did.
“That I have to say was a little bit of a surprise to me” admitted Virginia Mountan. “You know he felt a need and I kind of did a double take on him when he said he wanted to join and so yeah it’s been interesting, it’s been quite the journey.”
“I was the oldest fellow to take the paramedic course so yeah, if anybody could do it I guess I can do it,” Mike said with a laugh.
He says there was more to joining his wife than just being at the station a lot.
“When her pager goes off at 1 o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting at home wondering if there are any issues with them on the road — that was another concern that I had too,” Mike said.
He says the station gets about 100 calls a year and many involve long transfers to Gold River or Campbell River.
“This group of ambulance attendants here, you would not get this service in a big city, would not,” said Tahsis resident Janis Fisher.
Both residents and fellow paramedics agree that Mike and Virginia’s partnership as a husband and wife team is uncommon in British Columbia, however, they believe that it has proven to be very successful.
“Extremely proud, because that sense of community was being shown at its finest in Mike,” said Tahsis paramedic Allison Stiglitz.
Mike is an entry level paramedic and says while he has a few good years left, he’s not sure if he’ll move up to the level of his wife and three other fellow paramedics at the station.
“But just having an extra person here in town to help out is definitely good and I’m glad to be doing it,” said Mountan.