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

Rainbow Youth Theatre presents Urinetown: The Musical

To pee, or not to pee? That is the burning question surrounding… Continue reading

City, Courtenay Legion collaborate on special tulip project

1,000+ tulip bulbs planted in advance of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands

Cumberland wastewater procurement process should come in 2020

Construction on the first phase of the lagoon would likely begin in 2021

Elizabeth May juggles Island tour to make stop in Comox

Green leader takes exception to latest tactics from the NDP over minority government question

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

Town of Comox, RCMP complete investigations into allegations of staff misconduct

The Town of Comox, as well as the RCMP, have concluded their… Continue reading

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Most Read