Dale Bayliss was born and raised in Carnduff, and that’s where his passion for helping people was cultivated.
He started his career as a professional helping others back in the 1980s working ambulance. Bayliss has spent a lifetime of dedicated hard work in the emergency medical services (EMS), as a registered nurse in emergency, special care unit (ICU); as a flight nurse, flight paramedic; as a volunteer firefighter and as a dedicated educator in all EMS programs for many years.
A few years ago, he started working on a book series that would reflect the rich experience he gathered through his life and through working with hundreds of other professionals, who dedicate their lives to helping others.
The Mercury talked to Baylis while he was in Fort McMurray, where he works as a clinical instructor at Keyano College, which lately, was put on pause by COVID-19 as well as by the major flood that hit the area.
Bayliss' life and career choice were shaped by a road accident. When he was 16 years old, one of his friends was badly hit by a car north of Carnduff, and there was no ambulance back then in that corner of the province. There was a local emergency medical technician course, held locally, and Bayliss signed up for it right away.
“I was about halfway through the course and they realized how old I was,” said Bayliss.
He still was only 16, and the course was designed for those 18-plus.
“I just said ‘I’m not quitting,’ so I kept going.”
He graduated the course and started working the ambulance in the Carnduff-Oxbow area. From March 1984-August 1987, he was working full-time, managing the servicing.
“Back then having a small-town ambulance I really got attached to Oxbow and the people, the hospital,” said Bayliss. “I was raised in Carnduff, so it wasn’t too far from then my home … When you are dealing with people you know you seem to want to care that much more and you put in that much more effort.”
Being close to home also felt good, but it wasn’t meant to last as Bayliss felt that he could do more to help others.
“Then I was realizing that there were so many things that we could not do in 1987, and back then there were no paramedics.”
Bayliss went to nursing school in Regina and graduated as a registered nurse. However, that year there were no jobs in Saskatchewan, so he ended up moving to Alberta. He was planning to come back to Saskatchewan in a year, but that didn’t work out. He’s been working as a paramedic since 1991 along with working as a nurse. He’s worked for the STARS Air Ambulance and spent some time working up north.
Bayliss came home to Carnduff more while his parents were alive. His father Walter Bayliss, who was well-known to the community and always was helping everybody around him, died in 2011. And Bayliss, who already was looking for a way to give back, found something he could do to help others even more.
“I thought how I can give back. And we’ve lost quite a few paramedics because of the post-traumatic stress and we’ve seen a lot of badness in our industry,” said Bayliss.
Then one of his students and co-workers, who he stayed in touch with, committed suicide, which became the final straw.
“I thought there’s gotta be a way to stop this. And then I started writing my book.”
Bayliss plans to write eight books, which are his way to reach out to many people. Three books are already published and can be found all across Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
His first book, Caretakers & Lifesavers: My Memoirs – To Hell and Back, was published in July 2017. It is the story of his life, and it proved that his idea to help others to focus on the good in life through books was working.
“I did my first book and I was working on my second book. And one of the paramedics that’s actually from Saskatchewan, he was going to commit suicide and then he saw what I said and he actually called a friend and got help,” recalled Bayliss.
He then finished and published book two, Between Life & Death, in October 2017. He actually wrote it twice, with the first version being third hand, which Bayliss didn’t like after all and rewrote it, talking from his own perspective.
“This book will forever be my biggest gift to my EMS family, and to my late therapy dog, Tinsel, who was stolen from me by cancer,” said Bayliss on his website.
Two-thirds of the cases described in the second book are real, and the rest is fiction because the author wanted to integrate teaching and therapy as part of the book.
The third book, Nobody Walks Alone: Overcoming the Darkness of EMS, was published in December 2018.
“This book demonstrates that … working in EMS at just the right time, in the right place, along with the right desire to help we make a difference,” said Bayliss.
He is currently working on the fourth book, which is over two-thirds finished. The book talks about what happens from the front doors of a hospital, and Bayliss said that he is adding some current realities to it including things that have changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next books are geared towards the emergency medical responders (EMR), primary care paramedics and advanced care paramedics that make up most prehospital care providers. Books two through eight are meant to build a formal foundation of knowledge at all levels of the current EMS system. The final book is to be a survival guide of sorts for emergency medicine for anyone to read. Each book will build on the previous book and are all uniquely different.
“I want these books to be an inspiration to those that come after me, to continue the legacy of helping others.
“The books have something for anybody.”
In the books, there are many reflections of his past in southeast Saskatchewan, where people around taught and inspired him. For example, nurse Ann Marie Baerwald, who died of cancer, taught Bayliss to see the best in people, the lesson that stayed with him for life. He also recalled his memories of helping others a lot, which was just a part of the lifestyle growing up in a small town, where his family was raising cows, horses and sheep at different times.
“If you ever needed a hand, and this goes back to my dad, if any of our neighbours ever needed something, we would drop anything we were doing and we would go help them,” recalled Bayliss. “And there never was a monetary value to it.”
Echoing that spirit of support and help coming from the Bayliss family, Alex Tompkins wrote in his review on Bayliss’ book on Amazon, “I was a neighbour of Dale, our kids are the same age; he was always willing to help anyone and that's what his family did. Dale and his brother Donnie hauled a lot of bales from our farm. He was always an ambitious fellow with a great personality.”
Bayliss still cares a lot about his hometown and comes to visit occasionally. Just recently he has donated a few sets of his books to the Oxbow Benefit Auction – 2020, and the set of three was sold for $100 with proceeds from the auction going towards Carnduff’s food bank and the Oxbow emergency fund.
Since Walter Bayliss died, a group of friends including Bayliss came together and started a project called the Get Back Program, in which they teach courses to medical professionals with all proceeds going to different healthcare organizations. For five years they also did a walk, walking 100 kilometres in 24 hours and raising awareness about post-traumatic stress in life of medical first responders.
Bayliss' books always can be found in Carduff’s drugstore, and also can be purchased online.