This Spotlight article features Dan Burrill, an ACCES member who is based at the Moncton City Hospital and who has quite a unique career progression, from his formative years to his soon-to-be retirement. Dan grew up jumping between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as his dad was a pastor and was required to move about to help some of the smaller coastal communities. Dan’s first memory was that of growing up in Mace’s Bay near the Point Lepreau area in New Brunswick, but he considers Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, as his childhood home.
When his parents moved to a church in Cornwall, Ontario, Dan finished his high school there and then continued his education with enrollment in the Marine Engineering Technology program at St. Lawrence College. The first year of the three-year program gave Dan a good technology base as it was designed to cover all the technologies offered by the school. With this base and the first year completed, Dan did like any good Maritimer would, and he headed home for the summer. During the summer, he started working for a company called NCR, which specialized in cash registers. Dan enjoyed working with NCR and the technical training they offered. Over the next 15 years, Dan would work for NCR, and then move onto a company called MAI that challenged his technical skills in the area of computer hardware, followed by a company called Atlantic Business Machines (ABM), similar to his previous employer NCR. Working for these companies never kept Dan rooted in one spot; he moved between Halifax, Saint John, and finally once again in Yarmouth.
During this time, Technology wasn’t the only thing that inspired Dan. He was also inspired by Theology and following in the steps of his dad. While working for ABM and the flexible work schedule they offered, he would study at Baptist Bible Institute in the morning and then work an eight-hour shift for ABM.
With the hard work and effort, Dan became a Pastor and the mobility that his dad had experienced. Over the next 15 years, Dan moved between Bridgewater, Little Lepreau, Yarmouth, and Chance Harbour. He enjoyed the work but experienced another turning point in his life when he resigned from the church in Chance Harbour.
Dan returned to the field of technology and in 2002 started the Industrial option of the Electrical Engineering Technology program at NBCC Moncton. During his time at NBCC, Paul Auffrey sat in on Dan’s senior project presentation on a NIBP monitor. Through talking with Paul after and later from a chat with a student who had been hired by the George Dumont hospital, Leon Boudreau, he became aware of the field of Clinical Engineering.
So it was decided, Dan was going to try to get into the Clinical Engineering world. He applied and got hired on in a casual fulltime position at the Moncton City Hospital working on IV pumps which eventually turned into a fulltime position. An opportunity came to return to Nova Scotia once again, this time to Halifax and the Victoria General (VG) Hospital. The VG was an interesting facility to work in but with the proximity to the other major centers like the IWK and QE2, it lacked an ER and all the pediatric equipment. What Dan really wanted was to get back to Moncton, not just because of the opportunity to expand his knowledge in Clinical Engineering, but to enjoy his four kids and the many grandchildren that lived in the Moncton area.
In 2010, that opportunity arose when Murray McLean retired. Dan was quickly hired on and over the last six years has enjoyed everything that goes with being a Biomedical Technologist. If you ask Dan what he enjoys about the field, he’ll tell you that it is the opportunity to see the latest technology and medical equipment in the field, getting to work with healthcare professionals, and the personal satisfaction of knowing that without biomeds, things wouldn’t run as smoothly as they do. Over the last three years, Dan has expanded his role in the Clinical Engineering department at the Moncton City by becoming the supervisor of the general medical department.
It should be mentioned that Dan has also done some work in another healthcare center, although this one can’t be found in Atlantic Canada. You’ll have to cross the Atlantic and take and hard right to a country called Chad, located in central Africa. The opportunity came up while visiting with his daughter a couple years ago, who had lived in Chad and worked as a nurse. The visit lasted four weeks and during this time, he offered his service to the nearby health facility. Dan set to work on their various list of problems but was soon challenged by the difficulty in acquiring parts. Just imagine, needing a relay or a fuse holder, and not being able to walk to the back of the shop and simply grabbing these. Dan found that those easy fixes had to be put on hold just because the parts were nowhere to find and difficult to be brought in and even to research on the limited Wi-Fi made it difficult. Also, ever try to get a soldering iron to work on 220 Vac?
Dan is now at the point in his life that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel and smell the ink on the retirement checks. So, what is the plan? Well Dan, his wife, his daughter and his son in law have decided to make another step to help those that need it: they are opening up an orphan care center in Chad, where his daughter and son in law will work full time and Dan and his wife will visit during our winter months. Dan’s job may consist of some work on medical equipment, but he suspects that he will wear the hat of chief plumber, carpenter, electrician, and whatever else may be thrown his way. For more information on this, please view the link http://www.centrekemnda.com/
You may think that Dan is all work but he does have another interest which is impressive and has to be seen, not just talked about. Dan is a talented artist and has been doing this for some time with the creation of almost 50 paintings. Some of his works in progress include the women in Chad, his Dad doing some fishing, a squadron of WWII fighter planes, and a Maritime fishing port (see images).