Situations that call for first responders do not take a holiday.

Situations that call for first responders do not take a holiday.

Watching over the community at Christmas

Holiday season no holiday for our first responders

  • Dec. 23, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

 

 

It began in training, and throughout his decades of working for the RCMP, Don Sinclair knows what it’s like to miss out on holiday celebrations.

The recently-retired Comox Valley constable says working Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and throughout the holiday season is second nature for all first responders.

“I’ve missed Christmases, New Year’s Eve and birthdays, but it’s all part of the job. You always try and get home to visit throughout the day,” he explains over coffee shortly after his last day at the detachment.

Sinclair recalls during his training days at RCMP depot in Regina in 1986 he stayed there throughout the holiday season.

From his first posting in Fort St. John to Rossland and eventually to the Comox Valley, Sinclair estimates he’s worked between 20 to 23 Christmas days.

“When you’re single, it really doesn’t matter that much. But when you have a wife and kids, you try and go home as much as possible and have supper, but if there’s a call, you’re not going home.”

He said working throughout the holidays, people overall are happy to see first responders working, and members of the community show their appreciation in a variety of ways.

“We’ve had people bring us cookies and chocolate to the detachment, and (local restaurants) bring us pizza. It really makes us feel appreciated; it’s really nice.”

One time, Sinclair recalls working a Road Check and stopping a woman on the side of the road. A short while later, she returned to bring coffee to all the members. Another time, he responded to a theft complaint on a farm, and the family invited him in for Christmas dinner.

While he says “most people are in a really good mood” throughout Christmas and New Year’s, it’s not always easy to transition from work to family events.

“One Christmas Eve we responded to an assault on a wife and had to arrest the dad as the kids were standing there looking on,” he notes. “There is a huge mental aspect when you’re there trying to solve other people’s problems. You see bad things and then you go home and try and be happy.”

Paramedic Glen Greenhill agrees.

“It is always a little tougher – it’s a special time of year – and unfortunately some bad things do happen no matter what day it is.”

Greenhill, who has been a first responder for more than 30 years and is now the manager of patient care delivery of the Comox District for BC Emergency Health Services, says a call is a call no matter what day or time of the year.

“We’re hopefully making a difference in someone’s life – our work doesn’t take a holiday.”

While part-time paramedics do submit their availability and are scheduled accordingly (as opposed to full-time employees who have a set schedule), Greenhill notes paramedics and first responders know working throughout the holiday season is part of the job.

Greenhill explains there are a variety of support systems in place for first responders, including a debrief session, a stress incident team, and an employee family assistance program.

“We have a lot of support networks in place, and good communication with supervisors and partners is really important. Sometimes the best talking you can do is with your ears.”

He stresses it’s important for first responders to try not to focus on the negative, but admits it’s never an easy job, no matter what time of the year.

“As an emergency service, we can’t stop it from happening, and we’re always left with the fallout. We do provide outstanding pre-hospital care and it’s our job to do the best we can, but sometimes things happen and it’s just not fair – that’s life. But we know not all calls are always serious in nature … and always the best outcome is to be able to make a difference in someone’s pain and suffering.”

 

 

Just Posted

The plan for a three-storey, multi-family building on Second Street hit a setback on a recent provincial grant application. Record file photo
Province turns down grant for Cumberland project

Groups spearheading project may look to federal grant, say village staff

A young bear found deceased at the side of the road in the Comox Valley has conservation officers looking for answers around its death. Black Press file photo
Conservation seeking information for deceased Comox Valley bear

A young bear was found deceased at the side of the road near Kitty Coleman Park

Tools of the trade at the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo by Terry Farrell
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

A look at the first stage of the treatment process - where binding of solids and particles in the raw water happens before the water moves to filtration. Photo, CVRD
Water to flow soon from new Comox Valley treatment plant

“We are at our last major hurdle before achieving this critical goal.”

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox looking at the future of transportation in the town

Council adopted the 2020 Transportation Master Plan Update

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read