New Year’s Eve parade honours Saskatchewan’s front-line workers

Saskatoon emergency responders drove by Saskatoon hospitals, with their lights flashing and sounding their sirens, on New Year’s Eve to thank the health-care workers taking care of patients with COVID-19.

“It’s just a reminder again that while we know that people have been working hard, this is our opportunity to say thank you once again,” Arla Gustafson, CEO of the Royal University Hospital Foundation and one of the organizers of the parade.

Members of the Saskatoon Police Service, Fire Department, Medavie Health Service West paramedics and other first responders, in their respective vehicles, drove by St. Paul’s, Royal University, City and Jim Pattison Children’s hospitals on Thursday evening for a final salute to medical staff in 2020.

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She said she, and the other hospital foundation leaders, wanted to once again thank the people doing helping others and putting themselves in harm’s way to do so.

Many first responders, whether hospital staff or emergency crews, have contracted the novel coronavirus.

There have been outbreaks within the ranks of the Regina and Saskatoon police and among Medavie paramedics as well.

And according to the Saskatchewan government’s Dec. 31 COVID-19 update, 723 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 so far.

Gustafson, speaking to Global News via Zoom before the parade, said the event is a chance to recognize the efforts of everyone working to help others.

“It’s about everybody coming together,” she said.

“Think of the teachers, think of everybody in retail, they’ve been keeping the doors open and this is a way to say thank you.”

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