Better Together

Becca Barrus

Becca Barrus

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Niagara Ambulance Communications Service (NACS) in Ontario, Canada, is undergoing a major refresh. In addition to management changes and welcoming a new class of trainees, the center was also in need of a fresh coat of paint.

Enter Heather Potts, who has been with NACS for nearly three years as an advanced EMD. In addition to working under the headset, Potts has been running a small painting business for four years. She’s painted nearly 200 murals everywhere from bedrooms to garages to gyms to office spaces, each one imbued with creativity, care, and Potts’ unique style.

When Potts heard that the NACS was planning a spiff up, she volunteered her services immediately. The tight-knit group of Emergency Dispatchers are used to high call volumes and challenging circumstances, like dealing with international borders in their region and covering Niagara Falls, which attracts up to 12 million tourists annually. However, things had been especially tough for the center because of a significant increase in call volume and a catastrophic snowstorm over Christmas. This was Potts’ way of doing her part to bolster morale.

“It’s been an honor collaborating my side business and ‘professional hobby’ with my dream job,” Potts said.

The mural is situated in the dispatch center’s entranceway to be seen by Emergency Dispatchers clocking in or out. “Better Together” is painted in bold white scripted letters in the center of a swirl of intersecting hues. The wavy, overlapping lines elicit frenetic energy, but the big blocks of color keep the piece from careening too far off course. Almost like emergency dispatch itself.

“Heather painted a floor-to-ceiling mural in the entrance of the communications center, reminding all those who walk past that we are truly ‘Better Together,’” said Bryce Brunarski, Superintendent/Supervisor of EMS Operations and Head of Public Relations and Affairs with NACS.

“Storms make trees take deeper roots,” says the caption under a photo of the mural on Potts’ Instagram page, quoting Dolly Parton, well-known country singer and songwriter. Potts goes on to say, “The honor of painting a little pick-me-up at dispatch is all mine. No one, and I mean no one, does organized chaos like we do.”

Potts plans to continue painting murals throughout the Niagara EMS’ 18 ambulance bases to spread the joy to the organization’s medics—among which are Potts’ brother and sister-in-law—when they have downtime in between emergency calls.

The NACS center receives approximately 60,000 calls per year, which are answered by 38 EMDs under the supervision of seven communications superintendents. There are also eight emergency communication nurses (ECNs) offering assistance with non-emergency medical calls.

You can find Potts’ other work on Instagram at @PaintPottss.