Port Moody parade reinforced bond with community says fire chief

The weekly 7 p.m. roll of emergency vehicles past Eagle Ridge Hospital started as a nightly event early in the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s mostly back to business as usual for Port Moody firefighters, police and paramedics.

Last Friday, the city’s first responders staged their last 7 p.m. parade of vehicles past Eagle Ridge Hospital as a show of support for health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The hospital freed up much of its capacity to help it deal with any cases of the respiratory virus that came its way.

Ron Coulson, the chief of Port Moody Fire Rescue, said the weekly parade, that had started as a nightly occurrence during the early weeks of the crisis, had been a big morale boost for the community as people struggled with stress, financial hardship and isolation brought on by the closure of schools and many businesses.

“The whole pandemic has been challenging emotionally on all of us,” he said, adding firefighters benefitted as well as they were able to channel some of their own nerves and anxieties in a positive way.

Friday’s parade was cheered by onlookers from the sidewalks as it passed through the Klahanie and Newport Village neighbourhoods, and dozens more lined the driveway into the hospital.

“There was some extra ‘thank-yous’ out there,” Coulson said, adding first responders are still using new safety protocols implemented to ensure their own health during the pandemic.

The parade was one of several outreach initiatives by Port Moody firefighters to help ease the strain of the public health emergency. They included a poster contest to decorate the windows of the enclosure at the Inlet Station fire hall that houses the department’s antique 1949 Mercury pumper, a virtual tour of the hall in conjunction with the story time program at the city’s public library, as well as drive-by visits for kids and even a 90-year-old senior celebrating a birthday. Those are scheduled to end June 5.

Coulson said the efforts have reinforced the special relationship between Port Moody residents and the city’s emergency services.

“We’re not a big metropolitan centre,” he said. “We work hard to maintain that ‘no-call-too-small’ mentality.”

 

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