RICHELLE MASER, RESPIRATORY THERAPIST Where are you from:
I was born in Smithers and raised in Prince George.
Ice cream (specifically: pumpkin pie blizzards)
Favourite thing about northern B.C.:
Everything! I love living here, I love our winters, and I love walking out of my door and right into nature.
I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie (in life, like at work!) and I enjoy backcountry sledding and dirt biking. When I’m in the mood for quieter things, I like paddleboarding and yoga.
Life is short, let’s rip!
What do respiratory therapists do? I often say that “respiratory therapist” is quite a misnomer. When people hear “therapist,” they usually think of some sort of optional care. Respiratory therapists are anything but optional! We’re considered essential to life care and most of our work is done in urgent or trauma environments like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We’re at the hospital in Prince George (UHNBC) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many people are familiar with the ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation) in first aid – respiratory therapists are the “A” and the “B”! When an emergency happens or when critical care is needed, respiratory therapists are there. Although my role is mostly ICU work, respiratory therapists can also be involved in outpatient education, home oxygen programs, and pulmonary function. Because of compassion fatigue (common among care providers), you actually see a lot of respiratory therapists shift out of urgent care and into these other roles later in their career. What does a typical day look like for a respiratory therapist? Work at UHNBC is broken up into 12-hour shifts. Any given day or night shift can be feast or famine. On any given shift, a respiratory therapist might be called as part of the critical care outreach team to the bed of a patient who is crashing and have to make split-second decisions on how to stabilize them to prevent a code blue (cardiac arrest). Then, they might need to test another patient’s arterial blood and use state-of-the-art technology to interpret their oxygen levels and recommend changes to treatment. That could be followed by a call to the delivery room to perform