Job is priority for many during holidays

Emergencies and special needs don't take time off on Christmas

Firefighters are ready to respond to emergencies regardless of which day of the year it is.

Firefighters are ready to respond to emergencies regardless of which day of the year it is.

As we carve into our roast turkey on Christmas Day, there are people who will be out there working just like it’s any other day.

They will be making sure folks are safe, and they’ll be providing essential and emergency services. Some will be ensuring that those who cannot care for themselves are cared for and have a little something special on that most important day of the year.

At Interior Roads, it will be business as usual, says operations manager Ken Kelly.

“If it’s snowing, we need guys out there on the plow trucks.

“It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is. Christmas Day is no different to us than any other day.”

He notes that while they try to give their employees a break to be with their families, if they’re needed, they are called out.

“And there are some people who really don’t mind working on Christmas.”

The situation at BC Hydro is much the same, according to communication relations co-ordinator David Mosure.

“We’ll have crews on stand-by. Nobody will be in the building, but those on stand-by are committed to be within their home and the office.”

He adds working on Christmas is just part and parcel with the job.

“It’s like a Sunday for the line crews. That’s what they signed up for and we can’t leave people without power. If your pager goes off, out you go.”

At Carefree Manor senior residential care facility, it will be like one big family, with residents gathering around the tree on Christmas morning to open gifts.

Facility manager Mel Torgerson notes that prior to Christmas, care aide staff make a list of personal items each resident is in need of and the owners of Carefree go out shopping to personally purchase them.

A big Christmas dinner for residents and their family members is generally held before Christmas, as many of the residents go home for the holiday. For those who aren’t able to leave, there will be a special dinner and staff will make an extra effort to maintain a spirit of Christmas and make them feel at home.

Torgerson says they try to co-ordinate the schedule, so staff members with children can have the day off.

There will be no impact on service at 100 Mile District General Hospital on Christmas Day, but nurses and staff will try to make it as special as possible for patients, says acute care nurse manager Pattie Boyd.

They will do their best to allow patients to return to their home for the day, providing the right supports are in place. For those who must stay, the kitchen makes sure to have turkey dinner available, which they also provide for staff.

Boyd adds most of the staff members don’t mind working on Christmas.

“It’s a day when you’re trying to make it as special as you can for people who can’t go home and patients really appreciate it. Usually, people don’t mind taking their turn – it’s just tougher in a hospital because your priority is running a hospital.”

If there are special things going on, such as a choir performances in the adjoining residential care portion of the health facility, Boyd says staff will do their best to take patients over there to enjoy it.

Fire and medical emergencies can happen any time and Christmas is without exception. 100 Mile House Fire-Rescue chief Darrell Blades and his crew view it as just another day on the calendar. The firefighters are on call and Blades makes sure they have adequate staff available over the holidays. While they don’t typically get called out on Christmas Day, Blades can almost bank on getting calls on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

“Calls are usually medical-related. People have family over and there are slips and falls and sometimes with grandparents, there’s shortness of breath.”

A house fire on Christmas Eve in 2009 had his crew out until 5 a.m. on Christmas morning.

“We just did minimal cleanup in that case to get everyone back to their family, and finished up later.”

Blades says he’s been late for Christmas dinner several times over the years.

“If the pager goes off, there will be guys there.”

So this Christmas when the world seems to stop for Christmas celebration and you’re enjoying time with family and friends, just give a thought to the many people out there who are away from their own families, responding to emergencies, saving lives or making the lives of others a little brighter during the holidays.