CORNWALL, Ontario – In a somber ceremony Wednesday morning, Dec. 23, at the Cornwall Civic Complex the Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Service remembered their colleagues across Canada who lost their lives on the job this year.
Names of 51 paramedics from across the country were read out by Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement, Warden Frank Prevost, MP Eric Duncan, and Cornwall City Councillors Glen Grant, Elaine MacDonald, and Syd Gardner.
A ceremonial bell was tolled for each name after it was read, and then one more time for all paramedics who suffer in silence with mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“There are 51 names on the bell now,” said Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Scott Halliday who served as master of ceremonies. “Those are 51 names of paramedics who went to work, and never went home.”
The bell has been touring Ontario this year, with similar ceremonies held in each community it stopped in.
The bell is not only a memorial, but also a part of a fundraising campaign on behalf of the Canadian Paramedic Memorial Foundation who want to build a memorial to fallen paramedics in Ottawa. Halliday noted that paramedics were the only emergency service without a national memorial.
“Thank you for all of the work your service has done,” said Mayor Clement. “You have gone above and beyond . . . we are very grateful.”
There are roughly 125 total paramedics in the Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic service including full-time and part-time members.
During the pandemic, the service has been involved in conducting COVID-19 tests in Alexandria, as well as at long term care facilities and have done at home testing for those who are not able to leave their residence. More recently, the Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Service will begin a pilot program to support those on waiting lists for long term care facilities.
“I would like to thank everyone,” said Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Chief Bill Lister. “I think it is poignant that the bell rung one last time to break the silence.”
Fortunately, there were no members of the Cornwall and SD&G Paramedic Service who died on the job this year.