Normally, Parkland Ambulance is busy visiting schools and conducting open houses during Paramedic Services Week. This year, due to COVID-19, both paramedics and the community showed their appreciation for each other in different ways.
On Thursday afternoon, children drew pictures and wrote messages of thanks using chalk on the driveways of both of Parkland’s locations, one on 13th Street East and the other on 24th Street West.
Whether it was playing tic tac toe and hop scotch, writing their names, or drawing hearts across the cement, Director of Public Affairs Lyle Karasiuk hopes it makes staff feel encouraged.
“The staff, when they come by the two stations over the next few days, when they’re coming and going from their shifts, are going to be really uplifted by it and I think that will give them a little bit of an opportunity to say ‘You know what, people really do care,’” he said.
“Each and every day, our teams are out there being those heroes, those brave souls, those frontline providers.”
It was heartwarming for Karasiuk seeing the children wave when an ambulance rolled out from the neighbouring building, ready for a call. They got especially excited seeing the lights go off.
“We might have future paramedics in this crowd,” he said.
In fact, Mason Detillieux was wearing a sweater reading ‘Jr. paramedic’—he’s emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) Raeanne Detillieux’s son.
“She doesn’t actually drive an ambulance,” explained Mason, who’s six years old. “She calls the ambulance.”
EMDs, although the public doesn’t always see the work they do, are just as crucial in times of crisis, said Karasiuk.
Mason walked around the driveway, pointing to all of the pictures he drew.
“This is a house, and I drew this cherry tree with all these roots right here. Then I drew this heart body (a heart with legs). That, I made right here, is a little ambulance,” he said.
“Paramedic Services Week is recognizing our teams and the important work that they do and saying thank you to our teams, but it’s also for us to say thank you to the community and thank you for allowing us for the last 46 years to be a part of the growth of this community,” added Karasiuk.
He sent each of the children home with a bag of treats.
The pandemic has been hard on the staff at Parkland Ambulance, too. Not only do they have to take extra precautions when responding to calls, they aren’t able to volunteer at community events like they normally do.
Karasiuk said every year, Parkland Ambulance donates over 1,000 hours back into the community.
“We have such a huge community profile,” said Karasiuk. “We’re kind of like everybody else—locked in our offices, and we wanted to find a way to add a little bit of enthusiasm, add a little bit of colour.”
“I hope this stays on for a few days so that the staff coming and going from both of our facilities can see the messages of thank you, the messages of support, the hopes and dreams of the young people of Prince Albert.”