Paramedic memorial bell makes a stop in Fort Frances on way to Ottawa

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Paramedic Memorial Bell ceremony took place Friday afternoon at the paramedic ambulance base in Fort Frances, to honour the fallen paramedics on the line of duty.
The Paramedic Memorial Bell is usually used in a ceremony at the start and finish of the Tour Paramedic Ride that occurs every year. It is a 4-day long bicycle ride beginning in Toronto and finishing at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to honour paramedics who have died in the line of duty across Canada.
The aim of this ride is to also work towards raising the money needed to build a national memorial on Parliament Hill alongside the police and firefighters memorials.
“There is space in Ottawa for a paramedic memorial, it just has to be built,” said Julie Miner, a paramedic for the Rainy River District.
The year’s ride was cancelled because of COVID-19, but organizes still wanted to find a way to recognize the sacrifice of the medics whose names are on the bell. They embarked on a plan to have the bell reach every paramedic in the province, by being passed from service to service.
In her opening remarks, Miner said that they are here to honour the fallen paramedics on the line of duty as well as those who lost their lives because of mental health issues.
“Wanting to ensure the 50 paramedics whose names are engraved on the base of the Bell are remembered and honoured for their service and sacrifice, the bell was sent on a journey across Ontario to every paramedic in the province,” Miner said.
There was a minute of silence to reflect, remember and honour the service of those 50 fallen paramedics who are no longer with us.
The Bell began its journey in Windsor-Essex, and toured southern Ontario before being flown to Moosonee. In the last week, it has visited Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Whitefish Bay and now Fort Frances. The are 56 paramedic services across the province, six of them are First Nation services.
At the end of the bell’s tour, Miner said all the pictures and videos from its journey will be assembled into a mini-documentary. This idea was born out of COVID-19.
“They also recognize all of the paramedics, dispatchers and other emergency responders who have taken their lives because of mental health issues and post traumatic stress disorder that emergency responders are at a much higher risk for,” Miner said.
Zach Green works at the Rainy River paramedics base and also manages Rainy River Association of Professional Paramedics Facebook page. Green said it is nice having the bell in the Rainy River District for the first time.
“Maybe we can keep doing it every year,” Green said.