For 18 years, children, parents and staff in B.C. hospitals have been treated to a pre-Christmas visit by Santa. This year, Santa is once again travelling in a BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) air ambulance courtesy of Helijet.
“I’m so excited,” said Connor (pictured above), who was waiting outside BC Children’s Hospital for Santa to land. “I was good!”
The BCEHS and Helijet annual “Santa Flights” deliver toys and Christmas cheer to six hospitals: BC Children’s Hospital, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, Victoria General, Surrey Memorial, Royal Columbian, Nanaimo Regional General, and Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.
“I’m delighted that BCEHS and Helijet are back helping Santa make his special hospital visits this year,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Santa’s visits are magical as they lift the spirits of children receiving care in our hospitals. At the same time, the Santa visits also celebrate the dedication of our front-line workers, including specialized paramedics who provide such crucial medical care.”
BC Women’s Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Davies (pictured on the left with Mary MacKillop, C&W Director of Patient Experience, on the right) came to meet Santa.
“We have patients and families who come to us from around the province. Some of them are away from home. When Santa comes to the hospital, he brings some merriment, a semblance of normalcy and joy,” said Cheryl.
Joining Santa for the air ambulance flights is Joanna Stefani, an Infant Transport Team (ITT) paramedic. Specially trained staff like Joanna help to care for and transport critically ill babies and young children to hospitals.
“As ITT paramedics, we are dedicated to helping children in some of the most difficult and traumatic of circumstances,” said Joanna. “Often, we meet patients and their families in medical emergencies. Today’s Santa flight is incredibly special, as we get to bring smiles to young patients in less stressful conditions. I am honoured to represent all paramedics in this wonderful holiday tradition.”
Also flying with Santa is Danny Sitnam, president and CEO of Helijet, which operates the BCEHS air ambulance transporting Santa today.
“All of us at Helijet are happy to have this opportunity to help make the holiday season special for these courageous kids and their families who find themselves in hospital instead of at home as Christmas approaches,” said Danny. “This is the eighteenth year our dedicated staff at Helijet have helped fly Santa around and we’re very proud of our contribution as we continue to help BC Ambulance Service paramedics provide 24/7 helicopter service for hundreds of critically-ill patients across the province every year.”