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Paramedics prove compassion knows no boundaries

Region of Peel donates four retired ambulances to communities in Nunavut

When Peel Paramedics hear a cry for help, they respond - even if that cry is coming from a remote northern hamlet 3,000 km away.

On Tuesday, July 30, 4 retired Peel ambulances are making their way to Valleyfield and Ste Catherine, Quebec, where they’ll be shipped to Nunavut. There they’ll be gifted to 4 communities in desperate need of emergency vehicles.

"Most health care in the North requires a flight to the Ottawa hospital. Patients are generally transported to the airport in a pick-up truck, sometimes lying on a door taken from a nearby house," explains retired Waterloo Paramedic Chief John Prno, who reached out to Peel Paramedic Chief Peter Dundas a few weeks ago. "This makes it difficult to give the patients the pre-hospital care they need."

Getting the ambulances ready for this worthy cause has been no small task.

"Timelines are extremely tight. There are no roads to Nunavut, so the ambulances have to be shipped before the sealift season ends and the water turns to ice," says Chief Dundas.

In the past few days, Peel Regional Paramedic Services’ logistics staff have located, cleaned and stripped the vehicles. They’ve also arranged for the ambulances to be customized by the vendor at no cost, allowing the service to throw in some old-style stretchers and mattresses.

"When we couldn’t find enough mattresses, we asked our friends in Toronto to chip in, which they did," says Chief Dundas.

Yesterday, Public Works mechanics made sure the ambulances were in top condition, and staff volunteers are preparing to drive them to Quebec before the August 1 cut-off.

"So many people pitched in to get us to this point, which speaks to our service’s innate desire to save lives," says Chief Dundas. "Whether you’re in downtown Brampton or on the snowy streets of Igloolik, if you need help, we’ll get it to you."

The ambulances leave on Tuesday, July 30 at 7 a.m. Follow their journey on Twitter @Peel_Paramedics.