Working Christmas can be a ‘family affair,’ too

Emergency crew members with no children often work Dec. 25 for coworkers who have families at home

B.C. Ambulance charge dispatcher Ryan Hendren often volunteers to work Christmas day so that fellow dispatchers who have young children can enjoy Christmas morning with their families. Hendren

Whether or not you actually celebrate Christmas, chances are you regularly get Dec. 25 off from work every year.

It’s a tradition that most of Canada takes for granted, but Santa’s not the only one who pulls an all-nighter on Christmas. Police, the fire department and other emergency services step up again and again, sacrificing family time to keep us all safe.

“Everyone accepts that we run 24-7,” says Ryan Hendren, a charge dispatcher for B.C. Ambulance and a paramedic for 14 years come January. “We’re willing to help as many people as we can. Christmas is no different.”

But just because it’s a work day doesn’t mean it’s ordinary. “Because of the nature of the work we do, (your co-workers are) sort of like your second family,” he says. “Even though everybody’s at work, there’s definitely a family feel to it. Everybody tries to have a bit of Christmas cheer and tries to pull together a dinner.”

It’s a little disjointed with paramedics running in and out the door all day and night, but there’s still a sense of the holiday amidst the hubbub.

“I make the best of it,” Hendren says. “I come to work and wear a Santa hat and try to keep everybody cheerful.”

Keeping that spirit alive will no doubt be easier now that they’re in a brand-new building on Leigh Road. The switch from an antiquated facility on Jacklin Road was a sorely needed upgrade, he says.

“We went from essentially a small, dark cave to a bright, modern, very spacious, brand spanking new building. It literally has been night and day.

“Our home feels like a very comfortable place to be.”

Though Hendren, 34, lives in Saanich and has worked at dispatch centres throughout the Victoria region and up Island, he says the West Shore is “definitely home base for us.”

In addition to saving lives and dispatching ambulances, he has also helped make the holidays better for his co-workers over the years.

“It can be tough on people with younger kids, if they’re not there for Christmas morning. I don’t actually have kids, so for me personally, it’s not as big a deal.”

Hendren and others who don’t have little ones waiting anxiously for Santa’s arrival will often offer to trade shifts, where possible. He’s worked many times on Dec. 25 and it usually comes from trading with someone who wants the day off.

Regardless of family commitments, the men and women who have devoted their careers to saving lives and protecting the public take their roles very seriously, and work with dedication every day, holiday or not, Hendren says.

“There are so many people who are so driven to help people any way they can, and they really deserve recognition for that.”

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Husband of slain RCMP officer ‘disgusted and disheartened’ by parole board

Killer of Const. Sarah Beckett allowed limited day parole for alcohol treatment

Driver convicted in death of Const. Sarah Beckett granted partial parole

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend an alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after fatal crash in Langford

House fire on Esquimalt First Nation sends one to hospital

The blaze began at a home in a residential neighbourhood; one person has been treated for smoke inhalation

New childcare in Langford looking for toddlers and teachers

Willowbrae Academy puts an emphasis on healthy living habits

Experts discuss sustainability and tourism in Victoria

IMPACT Sustainability Travel and Tourism Conference runs Jan. 21-23

WATCH: Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Trial starts for man accused of killing Winnipeg bus driver

The Winnipeg bus driver was stabbed multiple times back in 2017

Giuliani clarifies comments about Trump Tower Moscow project

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani clarifies comments he made

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Speaker brings report on allegations to B.C. legislature committee

Report describes Darryl Plecas’ suspicions about senior staff

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Most Read