Paramedic Memorial Bell arrives in Frontenac

The Paramedic Memorial Bell rang out 51 times to mark each of the fallen paramedics lost in the line of duty, when it arrived for a short stay with Frontenac Paramedic Services on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer.

The ringing of a bell often accompanies some of the most significant moments and ceremonies the world over – weddings, the end of cancer treatment, and, in this case, those paramedics who’ve lost their lives on the job.

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, the Paramedic Memorial Bell arrived in Kingston, where it will be hosted until Wednesday, Dec. 16, before being passed off to Leeds and Grenville. While in Frontenac, the Memorial Bell will visit all seven ambulance stations, from Wolfe Island in the south, to Robertsville in the north. The Memorial Bell is often associated with the Paramedic Ride to Remember, both of which are initiatives of Canadian Paramedic Memorial Foundation, a volunteer association of and by Canadian Paramedics with a stated aim of building a national Paramedic community and raising funds for a permanent national memorial to Paramedics killed in the line of duty to be erected in Ottawa.

(L to R) Frontenac Paramedics Chief Gale Chevalier speaks at the welcoming ceremony of the Paramedic Memorial Bell, as Advanced Care Paramedic Julie Socha, and Superintendent Micheal van Hartingsveldt look on. Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer.

“Today we’re privileged to host the Paramedic Memorial Bell, and honour the lives of paramedics lost in the line of duty,” said Gale Chevalier, Paramedic Chief and Director of Emergency and Transportation Services for Frontenac County.

“This Paramedic Memorial Bell, inscribed with the names of those we have lost, traditionally travels with the Ride as a ceremonial symbol of missing friends,” Chevalier continued, noting the difference between the usual annual events and this year’s events due to the pandemic.

“Today, Frontenac Paramedics have the honour and privilege to recognize the service and sacrifice of 51 paramedics who have died in the line of their duty.”

Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Bell’s tour took a different shape this year. Typically the Bell would be brought to Ottawa during the Paramedic (bike) Ride from Toronto-Ottawa each September. Nevertheless, the Memorial Bell was received with both joy and sadness – at the ceremony receiving the Bell, it was tolled 51 times for each of the names immortalized on it, including Frontenac Paramedic Services’ Dale Hodgins, Gregory T. Allen, and Steve Graham. The bell then rang a 52nd time for paramedics, dispatchers, and paramedic management staff who lost their lives to PTSD.

Members of the Frontenac Paramedic Services stand at attention as the Paramedic Memorial Bell is displayed at the beginning of its journey here in Kingston and across Frontenac County. Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer.

The Memorial Bell’s tour began June 12th with Essex-Windsor EMS and will wrap up December 31st with Ottawa Paramedic Services, having visited nearly all paramedic services that serve Ontario’s municipalities and first nations reserves. While here in Frontenac, the Bell will visit the station on Wolfe Island, the three stations in Kingston, and the stations in Sydenham, Parham, and Robertsville before heading east.

For more information on the Paramedic Memorial Bell, the Paramedic Ride to Remember, and the Canadian Paramedic Memorial Foundation, click here.

The full video of today’s ceremony can be viewed below.

Video by County of Frontenac.

With files from Daniel Tastard-Homer.

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