A team of paramedic bike riders is touring Niagara Region EMS stations this week with the Paramedic Memorial Bell to remember fallen paramedics.
The Ontario tour this year replaces the annual Paramedic Memorial Bike Ride from Toronto to Ottawa, which was cancelled due to COVID-19 this year. The annual provincial ride, which includes 100 to 150 riders, is one of five rides that usually runs across Canada.
This week the tribute team is making stops at Niagara Region paramedic facilities including bases in Smithville and Grimsby on Friday.
The memorial ride and bell were created in 2013 to remember fallen paramedics who have died in the line of duty. The Paramedic Memorial Bell is usually tolled at an annual ceremony, once for each of 51 fallen paramedics.
“The ‘Remember the Fallen’ ceremonies demonstrate that those who have been lost are always remembered,” explained Bryce Brunarski, Acting Superintendent of Public Relations and Affairs for Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
A ceremony at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wednesday was attended in person and virtually by Niagara EMS staff and several regional dignitaries, including Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Niagara Region, and Wayne Gates, MPP for Niagara Falls.
At the ceremony, the names of fallen paramedics were read and the bell was tolled for each member. An extra toll was also sounded, as has become tradition, for those paramedics that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or have died from suicide.
The bell will be escorted by bike riders across the region stopping at 17 Niagara EMS stations over three days. The ride will head out to Smithville base Friday night at 7:35 p.m and arrive at the Grimsby base at 8:30 p.m. to end the Niagara lega on Friday evening.
Next, the Paramedic Memorial Bell will be handed off to Hamilton Paramedic Services where the members there will carry on the bell tour.