Emergency vehicles will form parade to salute staff at Royal Inland

A Kamloops first responder is organizing a nightly parade to thank Royal Inland Hospital staff for the work they have done in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened.

BC Ambulance Service advanced-care paramedic Terry Jessup said he got the idea after seeing a similar event taking place each night in the Lower Mainland.

“I saw it in Vancouver and I saw across Canada,” he said. “I know how hard the staff at Royal Inland is working.”

Jessup said he started contacting other first responders — RCMP and Kamloops Fire Rescue — to find out who might take part, not sure what to expect.“It’s been surprisingly easy,” he said. “Everybody is jumping on board. Everybody wants to get together to show their support.”

The first parade will take place on Wednesday, April 1.

Emergency crews will assemble in the parking lot behind the Kamloops Law Courts beginning at about 6:30 p.m., emerging onto Columbia Street at Fourth Avenue at 7 p.m.

Jessup said the route will take the parade west on Columbia Street, turning into RIH’s campus at Third Avenue, proceeding past the emergency room and Hillside Centre. The emergency vehicles will circle the roundabout at the hospital’s main entrance, exit back onto Columbia Street and disperse.

Jessup said he would like to see the parade take place nightly at 7 p.m. for as long as the pandemic persists.

“But the size will depend on call volume and who is on shift,” he said.

In Vancouver, the nightly parades are being cheered on by thousands of people standing on balconies, some banging pots and pans. Jessup said he hopes to see some local support in Kamloops, as well, but cautioned anyone looking to catch the parade to follow social-distancing guidelines — which could mean watching from a balcony or a vehicle as opposed to from a sidewalk.

“We need to monitor the social distancing,” he said. “Dr. [Provincial Medical Health Officer Bonnie] Henry and [Health] Minister [Adrian] Dix and the premier have created this law, so we need to respect that. But if people want to come out and support in a way that respects that, I support that. The bottom line is social distancing.”