Mike Thomas


Mike began his education at UTM in 1998, studying Psychology, Anthropology and Linguistics. During his first year he discovered his new campus did not have a medical first response team, as he had seen at other universities. From that point forward Mike had a vision and a goal to better safety for students, staff, and visitors on the UTM campus. Mike became the first Divisional Superintendent of ECSpeRT and set the ball rolling for the team to become what it is today. Mike passed on his legacy in 2003 to further his St. John Ambulance career in the region of Peel by becoming the District Training Officer, then Regional Training Officer and finally the Regional Community Service Coordinator.

After UTM, Mike attended Centennial College for his Paramedic Diploma and later on in his career, Humber College for his Advanced Care Paramedic graduate certificate. Mike also has a Masters of Professional Education from Western University, and is a professor in the Centennial College Paramedic Program, where he began his career. Previously Mike also held positions as a Clinical Educator at Humber College and was a member of the Education Faculty at the Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine. Mike continues his volunteering as the President of the Peel Paramedic Association and with Global Medic, an initiative that provides rapid emergency response in the wake of disasters and crisis, both nationally and abroad.

Mike is currently an Advanced Care Paramedic with the Peel Regional Paramedic Service and has worked in York region as well. Mike is a member of the Order of St. John, as a Serving Brother. Mike has also been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Why did you decide to join ECSpeRT?

“At the time that I started at UTM, there was no campus response team in existence at any of the three UofT campuses, but I had seen them at other colleges and universities. So, I decided to start one. I felt there was a need to have a student-led team of first responders at UTM that knew the layout of the campus and residences, and could respond more quickly than local EMS services. The only response network in existence was that of Campus Police, which were trained in first aid, but also had other potential concerns when responding to a call, such as legal/criminal aspects. What we needed was a group of dedicated people with expert skill and specialized knowledge of first aid and the ever-changing campus community. And, so, ECSpeRT was born. The first presentation was made on October 1st, 1998, to the Dean’s Advisory Committee. From that time, the team took on many forms until we received our official Charter as a Patient Care Division of St. John Ambulance on January 24th, 2003. From those meager beginnings in event medical coverage, the team has continued to grow in scope and legacy, now encompassing a much larger volunteer base and providing on-call services. That is the realization of my original vision for ECSpeRT.”

What is your fondest memory of ECSpeRT?

“I would have to say that the Charter Ceremony on January 24th, 2003, was a very special day. It represented the culmination of five years of hard work, sweat and tears. It was the recognition of the university community that my idea was worthwhile, and that there was a place for a student-led campus response team at UTM.
I have also been very happy to see the development of the team to an on-call service, as well as the formation of campus response teams at the other two UofT campuses.”

What is the most rewarding skill you acquired during your time at ECSpeRT?

“ECSpeRT taught me many things. Having hands-on experience in patient care was invaluable in my development towards becoming a paramedic. But, I also developed my leadership and teaching abilities, gained maturity and self-confidence, developed problem-solving and time management skills, and how to overcome adversity. Most importantly, however, I learned the value of perseverance, to stay true to my vision and to never let go of my dreams.”

What advice do you have for current ECSpeRT members and those who aspire to join the team?

“ECSpeRT is a great touchstone for people considering a career in health care. The skills you learn as a first responder, such as delegation, time management, prioritization, confidence, problem-solving and remaining calm under pressure, have diverse applications. Whether it is to manage your academic course load or write a multiple-choice exam, or using those skills professionally, they will serve you for years to come. The above set of skills are the same ones shared by leaders in industry, business management and emergency services. For anyone considering a career in health care, what better way to explore your interest than in a safe, volunteer setting, before you’ve committed further years of study and a lot of capital? ECSpeRT is a great way to develop your personal skills, as well as make friends and give back to the campus community.”