It’s the underground lair from which uniformed heroes emerge to rescue those in peril and it’s officially open for business.
Paramedics, other first responders and dignitaries gathered at the brand new North Vancouver ambulance station nestled under the HOpe Centre at Lions Gate Hospital Tuesday to hold its official opening and to honour the memory of its former unit commander, Tim Jones.
“It was Tim’s vision that he would leave the people of North Vancouver with this legacy and, as always, he did not let us down,” said Miles Randell, a B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic and North Shore Rescue volunteer.
In remembrance of Jones, who was perhaps better known for his penchant to drop what he was doing and charge into the backcountry to lead North Shore Rescue missions, the station is adorned with a plaque and panoramic photo taken from Mount Seymour, atop what is unofficially known as Tim Jones Peak.
“It’s our window from where Tim sits often … and we feel his presence still inspiring us,” Randell said.
Jones died of a heart attack while training on Seymour in January 2014.
BC Emergency Health Services, the City of North Vancouver, and the province all contributed to the station.
Unit chief Jade Munro said the station is be a big improvement over the former one — an old house across St. Andrews Avenue where the ambulances were left out in the elements.
“The ambulances would be very cold parked outside the winter and very hot in the summer. It was hard to keep the ambulances and station clean and dry and everybody knows I like it to be clean — sterile,” she said.
The purpose-built 8,866-square foot station and crew quarters is a more conducive, quiet place for the paramedics to debrief, complete paperwork between calls and study to enhance their skills, Munro said.
Health Minister Terry Lake praised the paramedics at the station for being on the front line of the health care system.
“It’s not about just transporting people to the hospital. It’s actually sending the emergency room to the patient. That is so critical and it truly is life saving,” he said.
In 2014/15, North Vancouver’s paramedics responded to more than 9,500 9-1-1 calls and completed 1,713 patient transfers according to numbers from the BC Emergency Health Services.