With a blip and a blare, a cacophonous choir of sirens from 18 different emergency vehicles wound up Redford Street and around the bus loop in front of West Coast General Hospital on Saturday night.
Ordinarily, that many sirens are a bad sign—especially on a weekend. On this night, however, they signalled a loud thank you to everyone working at WCGH in Port Alberni to keep patients safe through the worst medical pandemic of modern times.
Trucks and cars from all four community fire departments, the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, Alberni Valley Rescue Society and BC Conservation Service joined in. Nurses, paramedics and other medical staff came out the emergency department entrance in the cold rain to record the event and wave their thanks.
The time, 7 p.m., was designated because it is traditionally shift change at hospitals. The cheering began in a neighbourhood in Vancouver with some people living in condos around a hospital encouraging others to bang pots and pans as thanks to frontline workers. The trend quickly caught on across the country, with first responders joining in.
This was the first such ‘siren-ade’ in Port Alberni, but organizers are hoping it won’t be the last. It might possibly repeat on Saturday, April 4, again at 7 p.m., again in front of the hospital.
While our frontline health workers and others whose jobs in medical facilities are equally important, thanks must also go out to everyone working to keep grocery stores open, answering a deluge of employment and business questions, and keeping essential services operating as our community and our country navigate this strange time.
We know it has been said a lot over the past weeks, but it bears repeating: stay home. If you have to be out, maintain physical distance from anyone who doesn’t live in your home. Wash your hands. A lot.
The COVID-19 curve may be flattening a little, but the only way we are going to plank it is by not letting up.
— Alberni Valley News