Langley paramedic postpones retirement to help battle COVID-19

This was supposed to be the last month on the job for paramedic Vince Ford.

After 40 years of service, the 59-year-old Langley City resident had decided to let his licence expire at the end of March and continue his volunteer work helping the homeless with the Kimz Angels charity.

All that went out the window with the arrival of the COVID-19 virus and a provincial government decision to extend licences of about-to-retire paramedics like Ford.

“I’ll be staying on the roster until this is all over,” Ford told the Langley Advance Times.

Ford said the hope is to avoid a shortage as a result of paramedics being exposed to the virus, as happened in hard-hit new York City.

“You look at New York, 200 [paramedics] went down,” Ford related.

He said extra precautions are being observed, including wearing protective masks and gloves and cleaning surfaces with disinfectants.

“We [paramedics] can’t even walk around the hospital without a mask,” Ford described.

Ford and his wife, who is an ER nurse, are maintaining “social distancing” at home to avoid possible contamination.

Ford’s revised plan is to retire in May, “if it all clears up.”

Meanwhile, Ford is continuing to volunteer at Kimz Angels when he isn’t working as a paramedic, delivering sandwiches and other supplies to the needy using a repurposed and repainted former ambulance.

He said he is operating under the same strict precautions he observes as a paramedic, and instead of handing items directly to the homeless, will place the bagged donations on the ground and step back.

Ford had praise for his fellow front-line medical workers, who are bracing for an influx of cases as the virus continues to spread.

“I’m very proud of all my friends,” Ford commented.

Meanwhile, the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons is preparing to activate the licences of retired doctors on an emergency basis if there is a need.

The college has been contacting physicians who have retired within the past two years, since it generally requires physicians to be active within three years to keep their skills current.

Of about 100 doctors contacted, more than 20 have indicated they would be willing to return if needed.