Our Stories

St. Michael’s celebrates National Respiratory Therapy Week

Toronto, October 22, 2012

By Emily Holton

Respiratory team
Last year, St. Michael’s respiratory therapists provided over 100 hours of education to patients and their families, healthcare students and staff from all disciplines.

"Respiratory therapists are always the calmest people in the room," said Hilary Every, a respiratory therapist at St. Michael's. "We've seen it all."

Every has just assessed a 78 year-old man with multiple injuries from a fall. Amid the flurry of physicians, nurses and other allied health professionals, Every went directly to the head of the bed to assess how well the patient was breathing.

As a member of the Cardiac Arrest, Trauma, Neonatal Arrest, and Critical Care Response Teams, Every can be called to a crisis like this at any moment. Her patients are often the sickest and most vulnerable in the hospital. "Your pager goes off and you never know what you're going to find. It's stressful and fast-paced," said Every. "But to be part of saving someone's life is amazing."

Respiratory Therapists (often referred to as RTs) are critical care professionals who specialize in helping people breathe. RTs are experts in managing artificial airways (breathing tubes inserted via the patient's mouth or neck into the windpipe) and mechanical ventilation (delivery of supported breathing through different types of breathing machines). RTs also assist in diagnostic procedures like bronchoscopy (insertion of a camera into the lungs), and in transporting critically ill patients within or between hospitals.

Considered an essential service, the RTs at St. Michael's provide 24-hour coverage in our intensive care units, Emergency Department, general wards, Neonatal Nursery, operating rooms and pulmonary function labs. Wherever and whenever a patient is deemed high risk for respiratory failure, the RT is part of the care team and is ready to provide the necessary interventions.

Oct. 22-26 is National Respiratory Therapy Week, a time to celebrate the hard work and significant contributions respiratory therapists make to health care in Canada. To learn more about respiratory therapy at St. Michael's, visit

See More of Our Stories in 2012