Paramedics take part in ride to support national memorial

These four members of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board were among the 300 riders who took part in a 525 kilometre bicycle ride from Toronto to Ottawa, to raise funds for the construction of a monument, commemorating paramedics who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The four paramedics in the photo include Valerie Breen, Peter Finlay, Tony Staalstra and Jennifer Hamilton.

MANITOULIN—A group of Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (MSDSB) paramedics took part in a 525-kilometre bicycle ride to raise funds to construct a monument in Ottawa commemorating paramedics who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

“It was a heck of a ride. I’m still sore,” quipped Peter Finlay of Mindemoya, one of four MSDSB paramedics who rode their bikes 525 kilometres from Toronto to Ottawa.

“Jennifer Hamilton, our original rider, was joined this year by Valerie Breen, Peter Finlay and Tony Staalstra who, along with pit team member Sherri Chopra, raised $1,235 for the Canadian Paramedic Memorial Foundation,” an MSDSB release noted.

According to the Paramedic Ride website, the memorial monument will be a special place where family, friends and colleagues can remember their loved ones and honour the dedication and sacrifice of all Canadian paramedics who have lost their lives.

The 2018 edition of the Paramedic Ride ran from September 14-17 in Ontario and Quebec, with similar events being held in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta earlier this year.

Mr. Finlay told the Recorder, “I do ride a bike and I will be taking part in triathlons starting next year.” He recently took part in the half-marathon (Massey Marathon) and will be taking part in a similar event I in Toronto later this year.

“I lost 55 pounds in training and getting in shape in 2017 for half-marathons and at that time Jennifer (Hamilton) asked me if I wanted to take part in the Paramedic Ride,” Mr. Finlay told the Recorder. “Jenn has been taking part in the ride for about four years now.”

“It is a fundraiser for a very good cause,” said Mr. Finlay. “It was a great ride and I got to meet a lot of paramedics from all over. It was emotional when we rode on to the Hill in Ottawa and people were making speeches about losing someone to mental health disease, like PTSD and PTSI. They are trying to get a national memorial constructed in Ottawa. Paramedics are the only first responders who don’t have a memorial for all those who have passed on. The ride brings the issue and awareness of  the concerns forward.”

“The main reason for the fundraiser to have a memorial is to honour all those paramedics who have fallen,” said Mr. Finlay. “Every day of the ride the names of 48 paramedics who have lost their lives was read off.” He pointed out research has shown that paramedics are four and a half times more likely to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than a police officer.

“I personally find it ridiculous that we don’t have a memorial for all fallen paramedics in Canada,” said Mr. Finlay, noting that $5 million needs to be raised for the memorial.

“There were over 300 riders taking part,” said Mr. Finlay. “It was awesome to be part of this.” He pointed out Tony Staalstra has a camp on Tobacco Lake and Valerie Breen works as a paramedic on Manitoulin quite a bit.
“The ride brings awareness to the whole issue and it is a great cause,” said Mr. Finlay.

Leslie Gamble, mayor of Sables-Spanish River and chair of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Service Board expressed his gratitude on behalf of the board last week for the efforts of all paramedics and, specifically, the outstanding way that these five Manitoulin-Sudbury DSB paramedics represented their profession and our communities.

Anyone wishing to learn more or to donate to the Paramedic Ride can find out more at www.paramedicride.ca.