After 11 years, Peterborough County-City Paramedics’ deputy chief of operations Christopher Barry leaving post

·3 min read

After 11 years serving as Peterborough County-City Paramedics’ deputy chief of operations, Christopher Barry is leaving his post to pursue a new employment opportunity in Hastings County.

Barry joined Peterborough County-City Paramedics after first serving as deputy chief of operations in Lennox and Addington County in the Napanee area, taking on the role as their deputy chief in 2001.

Barry, who first became a paramedic in 1989, will continue in his role at Peterborough County-City Paramedics until October.

Then, it’s off to Hastings County, where Barry will again assume the title of deputy chief of operations for the local paramedic service.

Barry decided to make the leap into the paramedic service after first serving in the Canadian Navy.

“Once I left, I was looking for something with the same kind of discipline and structure, whether it was policing, fire or EMS,” Barry told The Examiner.

Barry quickly set his sights on the EMS world and joined shortly after.

So far, he’s worked in the paramedic field for 34 years.

With over a decade of experience as Peterborough County-City Paramedics’ deputy chief of operations, Barry is responsible for overseeing personnel and fleet equipment stations.

“It’s been a hands-on portfolio,” he said.

There are two deputy chiefs and a chief now at Peterborough County-City Paramedics: Barry as deputy chief of operations, the recently added position of deputy chief for professional standards and Randy Mellow as chief (Mellow has recently taken on added duties as deputy chief administrative officer for the county).

After leaving Lennox and Addington County, Barry was in search of a challenge — and he found one in Peterborough.

Barry said the pandemic, coupled with the city’s growing opioid crisis, has been the biggest challenge “by far.”

“Peterborough is a growing city, although it has its share of issues, obviously things with off-load, homelessness, mental health and drug addiction. It keeps you on the toes in regards to the changing dynamics of the community,” Barry said.

“When I came here I was looking for a challenge and those opportunities became a challenge. During the pandemic, there were a lot of things we had to work through in terms of staffing; dealing with patients who had COVID, dealing with staff who had COVID, so it was really an exciting time in some ways but it was a challenging time also.”

Barry credits senior Peterborough county and city staffers, along with county council, with alleviating some of those challenges.

“When we needed additional ambulance support. When we needed additional equipment they were there. They supported us all through this,” he said.

Looking ahead, Barry said, “the county is going in the right direction and continues to add staff as needed. With the support of the city and the county, we have the resources we need, but obviously the call volume continues to increase and we’re going to need additional resources in the future.”

Reflecting on his time with Peterborough County-City Paramedics, and the mentorship he received from Chief Randy Mellow, Barry said he’s most proud of the progress the services has made over the last 11 years.

“We were the first ambulance service in Canada to put solar panels on our ambulances, trying to reduce our green footprint,” Barry said.

“With the help of senior management and county council, we were able to get federal funding for that research project. We’ve implemented a lot of new equipment and we’re ahead of a lot of services when it comes to technology.”

Barry plans to serve another five years in Hastings County before hanging up his hat as deputy chief of operations.

Barry said his time in Peterborough, where he received support from a close-knit team, was both rewarding and challenging.

“It’s been really exciting,” he said.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner