By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The Northumberland Paramedics held an official observance Dec. 2 in honour of the Paramedic Memorial Bell that the corps is hosting through December 5.
As Paramedics Chief Susan Brown explained, the Memorial Bell records the names of both civilian and military paramedics in Canada whose lives have been lost in the line of duty since 1980 – 51 of them to date. It is a program co-ordinated by the Canadian Paramedics Memorial Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting the mental health of these care providers and standing behind those who are struggling with PTSD.
The Memorial Bell tours around the country, to raise awareness of the sacrifices that have been made and (it is hoped) boost donations in support of the work of the Canadian Paramedics Memorial Foundation.
This year’s tour began June 12 in Essex-Windsor, Brown said. During its week in Northumberland, Friday has been set aside to tour it around various locations, and it will be handed off to the Hastings-Quinte West paramedics Dec. 5. Its 2020 tour will wind up in Ottawa with a ceremony on Parliament Hill.
County Warden Bob Sanderson expressed regret that the COVID-19 pandemic made a public ceremony impossible for those who would have wished to be present.
“But I think the hearts of all those people are here, and it’s an honour to be here today to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of Canadian civilian and military search-and-rescue paramedics who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” Sanderson said to the small group gathered.
“We recognize also the ripples outward from this tragedy. There are 51 families, 51 sets of friends, colleagues, communities who have lost an individual who shared a passion for serving. The enormous impact of such sacrifice is why we gather here today.
“This monument goes across Ontario on its journey to Ottawa. Let it be a reminder of the individuals who responded to the call of duty despite personal risk.”
An honour guard of paramedics – Mike Stumpf, Hayley Martin and Galen Burrows – surrounded the monument in their dress uniforms.
Stumpf described the bell ceremony over which they presided, the reading of each name and the tolling of the bell after each one to recognize the sacrifice made for their fellow Canadians.
They stood at attention, hats removed in respect, as Stumpf read each name in chronological order and Martin tolled the bell after each.
1980 – Sgt. Ronald O’Neill, Cpl. Wade Fisher and Cpl. Richard Cocks of the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue, and Peter Madill of Ontario
1988 – Tony Sunderland of British Columbia, and Ian Harris and Donald Contant of Ontario
1989 – Charles Ransome of Ontario
1990 – Theresa Bond of British Columbia
1992 – Phillip Young of British Columbia
1993 – Carol Schlamp of British Columbia
1995 – Manual Cuadros and Keith Barrie of Manitoba, Wendy Thompson and Andy Goedicke of British Columbia, and Ken Doughty of Canada
1997 – Ronald Macdonald of Nova Scotia
1998 – Cpl. Darrell Cronin and Jean Roy of Canadian Forces Search and Rescue
1999 – Francois Pichette of Quebec
2000 – Jacques Beauregard of Quebec
2002 – April Hopkins of Ontario
2003 – Wayne Duffy and John Rossiter of Ontario
2005 – Andrea Thompson and Ronald Racicot of Ontario
2006 – MCpl. Kirk Noel of Canadian Forces Search and Rescue, Cpl. Andrew Eyekelenboom of Canadian Forces Edmondon, Cpl. Glenn Arnold of Canadian Forces Petawawa, and Kim Weitzel and Shawn Currier of British Columbia
2007 – MCpl. Christian Duschene and Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp of Canadian Forces Valcartier, Paul Patterson of Ontario and Michael Jolin of Alberta
2008 – Cpl. Michael Starker and Pte. Colin Wilmot of Canadian Forces Edmonton, and Michael Gray of British Columbia
2010 – MCpl. Kristal Giesbrecht and Pte. Andrew Miller of Canadian Forces Petawawa, Ivan Polivka and Jo-Ann Fuller of British Columbia, and John O’Mahoney of Alberta
2011 – Sgt. Janick Gilbert of Canadian Forces Search and Rescue
2013 – Christopher Snowball and Dustin Dagenais of Ontario
2014 – William Mallock of New Brunswick
2015 – Sgt. Mark Salesse of Canadian Forces Search and Rescue
2017 – MCpl. Alfred Barr of Canadian Forces Search and Rescue
2019 – Leigh Schroeder of Saskatchewan
2020 – Mathieu Danis of Quebec
The ceremony concluded with a single ring of the bell for those who suffer in their struggles with PTSD and for those who have lost the battle, succumbing to suicide.
Then Stumpf gave a final command – “to the fallen, salute.”