It all started with trip down into the United States to take part in the National EMS Memorial Ride to honour paramedics that have been injured or lost in the line of duty. Their version (commonly known as the Muddy Angels) was inspired as a result of 9/11. Seven Canadian paramedics took part in May of 2010 and their determination paved the way for our own yearly Canadian event, the Paramedic Ride (Tour Paramédic).
We held our inaugural event in 2013, mimicking the same values and respect south of our border and also being joined by 15 of our American comrades and cyclists. Over the years, it has grown beyond what we could have imagined. Our cycling events are open to anyone, regardless of skill or endurance and we have now held cycling events, to date, in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Nova Scotia. Take part in one of our cycling events and you will make friends that will last a lifetime.
That being said, our main goal remains to honour our fallen military and civilian paramedics while fundraising for a National Memorial Monument. To date, TPR has fundraised over $300,000 to go towards the monument. We feel that this is an important goal; so that family, friends, and co-workers have a site to visit to honour their loved ones lost too soon.
In 2020, The Tour Paramedic Ride, like most other organizations worldwide, had to adapt and rethink its operations. Our events attract hundreds of people across the country each year, making our current modus operandi unrealizable. The Tour Paramedic Ride virtual tour was then born.
From August 23rd until September 5th, we asked our members and supporters to saddle up and ride their bikes to honour and remember our fallen colleagues whilst following local public health guidelines for gathering and physical distancing. With small rides having been organized across the country, we can say that the eighth edition of the Tour Paramedic Ride and its first virtual tour was a success! The unofficial goal of the ride was for cyclists to log their mileages on Strava and upload to the TPR 2020 team page. Collectively we wanted to see if we could equal the distance of riding coast to coast. The riders all put in enough kilometres to equal Victoria, BC, to Cape Spear Nfld. TWICE!
This year’s jersey was designed by Al Pruden, British Columbia paramedic and board member for TPR. Drawing off a pair of socks sent to him by fellow rider and London EMS Paramedic Julie Colgan, he quickly got to work on something that spoke to the purpose of the Ride and to recognize 2020 for what it has been; the year of COVID. STRONGER TOGETHER was the theme in both official languages.
The jersey also paid homage to the latest fallen paramedic from Saskatchewan, Leigh Schroeder, with a black band and his name on the right shoulder. Sadly another name added to the 50+ Paramedics who gave their all in the line of duty.
We are very proud of all the cyclists, family and friends who purchased 200 of our beautiful and special edition 2020 jerseys and matching shorts. Jackroo has given back 15% of the sales to the cause totalling over $4,300!
Al also designed a mask to help keep riders safe and promote the TPR on and off the bike.
The Ontario Paramedic Memorial Bell Tour
Concurrently, one of the cofounders of the Tour Paramedic Ride, Norm Robillard, met with a team of TPR members and took the great initiative to organize the Ontario Paramedic Memorial Bell Tour. Not only did this tour bring us back to our roots of recognizing and remembering the paramedic line of duty deaths (LODD), it opened up communication and networking between all 59 paramedic services in Ontario, including First Nations services, and will be reaching every picturesque corner of the province, from Sioux Lookout to Windsor via land and air. Each and every paramedic service has honoured our fallen in touching ceremonies and had the opportunity to experience the connection we all have with those that we lost in the line of duty and support our colleagues that are suffering in silence. A special thank you goes to Simcoe County who added the engraved plaque to honour, Mathieu Danis, the most recent added name of fallen paramedics, to the bell during this tour.
A final word…or two
While the pandemic has definitely created harsh restrictions and caused a setback in large gatherings and fundraising, we continue to move forward. The Tour Paramedic Ride continues to be relevant, maybe now more than ever, because of the sense of family and networking that this organization brings. We must look out and support each other through these difficult times as paramedics and other healthcare workers remain front and centre when dealing with this unique health-care crisis.
The organization is now stronger than ever with a fully established board of directors. These volunteer members continue to work hard to ensure that this organization has a strong business model moving forward so that when the pandemic is finished, we can get back to our strong fundraising efforts.
For more information or to get involved, please visit our website at www.paramedicride.ca. Whether you are a cyclist, volunteer, or sponsor of the event, we greatly need and appreciate your support. We want to take this opportunity to thank our perennial national sponsor, Zoll, as well as all of our volunteers and cyclists who have made the Tour Paramedic Ride and Ontario Paramedic Memorial Bell Tour possible. The dedication of these volunteers is truly astounding.
D’un océan à l’autre or Ocean to Ocean achieved, the Tour Paramedic Ride 2020 lives on till we can all ride together again.