Memorial bell honouring fallen paramedics makes stop in Leeds and Grenville

BROCKVILLE, ONT. — The Paramedic Memorial Bell made a visit to Leeds and Grenville over the weekend to honour those lost in the line of duty.

“Traditionally, the bell would travel from Toronto to Ottawa in a bike ride,” said Leeds and Grenville paramedic service superintendent Christopher Scott. “This year because of COVID-19, that was unable to happen. So the organizers of the ride, services and paramedics agreed that COVID-19 was not going to stop us from honouring and remembering those who have fallen in the line of duty.”

Paramedic Memorial Bell

This year, the plan was to visit every paramedic service in Ontario, so that more people would be able to see the bell. Each paramedic service would hold their own ceremony.

The bell arrived on Saturday from Lanark County Paramedic Service.

“What we did this year in Leeds and Grenville is we took the bell to every station on Saturday and Sunday and we had our paramedics who are on the front line ring the bell and recite a name in honour of those 51 fallen paramedics,” Scott said.

There’s another reason the memorial is paramount to those in the profession. It raises awareness for paramedic mental health and first responder suicide, Something seven-year paramedic Scott Speer says is very important.

“The biggest thing it means is kind of showing support and highlighting to us just how hard and traumatic sometimes this job can be for all of us,” Speer said.

“I don’t think people really realize some of the dangers that can come across with our profession here. There are a lot of stressors you can see on a day to day basis. Not to mention too, some of the traumatic events that we can be a part of,” Speer added. “Sometimes we are the first people on scene and that can lead to pretty severe lasting effects.”

Paramedic Memorial Bell

The annual Paramedic Ride usually happens in September, raising funds to build a memorial in Ottawa for fallen paramedics across the county.

“A memorial would be awesome. It would be a place to go where we could sit, and really think about those that have been lost in our profession and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said paramedic Dave McFadyen, Speer’s partner.

“It’s a dangerous job, so having a place to go where we could think about those people would be awesome.”

Seeing the memorial bell in person highlighted the dangers that come along with the profession, noted Speer.

“You get a real sense of the magnitude of it. We had a little video put together and when you hear that bell ring 51 separate times, it really touches on the heaviness that it sort of shows to you, that there are a lot of us that have suffered and unfortunately lost the battle,” Speer said.

“All the services have unified around this bell,” said Scott. “(They) are making an important event to honour and recognize these 51 individuals. There’s been a large conversation amongst services and paramedics about raising awareness and having that conversation, this bell offers an excellent chance to do that.”

On Tuesday, the memorial bell was passed along to Cornwall SDG Paramedic Service and it will arrive in Ottawa on Jan. 6, where a small ceremony will be held in front of the Parliament buildings. 

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