Monday, near Tofino marked 10 years since the tragic loss of two on-duty BC ambulance paramedics.
On October 19, 2010, Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka were driving back to their station in Tofino after dropping a patient off in Port Alberni when their ambulance plunged down a cliff into Kennedy Lake and claimed both of their lives. They are the ninth and tenth ambulance paramedics in BC to have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In honour of our two colleagues, Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) held a small event at the Tofino ambulance station where the union revealed a memorial monument. Family, friends, local paramedics, as well as representatives from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), the Provincial Health Service Authority (PHSA), and APBC attended and paid their respects to the fallen paramedics.
Fuller was a 23 -year veteran with BCEHS, serving as the unit chief and a primary care paramedic in Tofino. Ivan had 14 years of service with BCEHS and was also a primary care paramedic.
During his tribute, Troy Clifford, President of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, reminded those in attendance that the world lost so much more than two paramedics ten years ago:
“Jo-Ann was a paramedic, a unit chief, a mentor, and a leader in her field," Clifford said.
"On the flip side, she was quite the fisher woman, and a gourmet cook. JoAnn had a love of travel and books and was so many things, but above all she was a wife, a sister, a mother, and a grandmother. As her family says, she was the glue that bound them all.”
“Ivan was a paramedic and a colleague," Clifford added.
"He was a mentor and a friend. He had a gift of the arts with his carving, photography and poetry. He liked to hunt and fish and was an activist and environmentalist. He was a husband, brother, father and grandfather. His family remembers him as ‘a strong man with a gentle touch.’”
Darlene MacKinnon, Chief Operating Officer of BCEHS noted that the monument serves not only as a tribute to JoAnn and Ivan, but also represents the sacrifices made by all ambulance paramedics:
“By their very nature, paramedics are driven to help others,"MacKinnon explained.
"They help us in our darkest hour, showing compassion when we are sick and scared, and comfort our loved ones when we can’t be there. Today with the unveiling of the monument of JoAnn and Ivan, we are reminded of the sacrifices that paramedics make every day in carrying out their duties.”
The monument will eventually be moved to a dedicated roadside rest area near Kennedy Lake once highway upgrades are complete.