Irma was born December 31, 1917 in Hespeler (now Cambridge), Ontario, Canada, she died in Sacramento, California, on July 2, 2017. Dr. West traveled to Salem, Oregon where she obtained a BA degree from Willamette University. She moved to Moffett Field, California, accepting a position as a computer for military aircraft research at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA).
Dr. West graduated in 1947 from the Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel) in Philadelphia, taking internship and residency training at St. Joseph's Hospital in San Francisco and obtaining her license to practice in California in 1948. She received a Master's Degree in Public Health at U.C. School of Public Health in Berkeley and accepted a position with the State Department of Public Health. She worked primarily in occupational medicine and toxicology including research and investigation into the health effects of pesticides on agricultural workers. Dr. West authored over 30 scientific papers, contributed to seven books, and was a member of a number of medical organizations, including The American and California Medical Associations.
Upon retirement in 1980, Dr. West was able to devote more time to her family and join community organizations such as the Sacramento County Historical Society. She pursued her hobbies of medical history and writing. She researched Sacramento medical history at the Old City Cemetery where she gave tours and was a charter member of the Old City Cemetery Committee. As a member of the History Committee of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Association she authored many articles on medical history for the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine and served as a docent for the Society's Museum of Medical History. She received community service awards from the City and County of Sacramento for her work with the Old City Cemetery Committee and from the Sacramento County Historical Committee for historical tours and publications.