Santa trades in sleigh for helicopter to visit young Nanaimo patients

By on December 21, 2016

Three-month-old Jace Cahill goes face to face for the first time with Santa during his stay at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Santa made a surprise visit to NRGH’s children’s ward Tuesday to spread a little holiday cheer to young patients hospitalized through the holidays. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Three-month-old Jace Cahill goes face to face for the first time with Santa during his stay at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Santa made a surprise visit to the children’s ward Tuesday to spread a little holiday cheer to young patients hospitalized through the holidays. — image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

By  Chris Bush – Nanaimo News Bulletin

Santa caught a lift with B.C. Emergency Health Services to bring Christmas cheer to children in hospitals Tuesday.

Santa left his reindeer in the stable for his annual trip with B.C. Emergency Health Services Infant Transport Team aboard an air ambulance to deliver small stuffed animals to patients in children’s wards in Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey .

The annual toy run cheers children, but also gives paramedics a chance to meet families they normally only interact with during medical emergencies.

Brittany Clarke, whose three three-month-old son, Jace Cahill, received a small stuffed TY puppy named Duke, said she thought it was “cool Santa arrived in a helicopter.”

“I thought it was amazing,” Clarke said. “I though it was special and very thoughtful of Santa to do that.”

Cahill was released from hospital later in the day.

Helijet International is a major service provider of dedicated medically equipped helicopters to the B.C. Air Ambulance Service of B.C.

“We’re thrilled to once again assist Santa on his air ambulance toy run to visit children in hospitals this holiday season,” Danny Sitnam, Helijet president and CEO, said in a news release. “Throughout the year our dedicated Helijet staff works closely with BCEHS paramedics to provide 24/7 helicopter service for hundreds of critically ill patients across B.C. Many of our patients are children, so all of us at Helijet are happy to help make this Christmas season special for these courageous kids and their families.”

To learn more about B.C.’s air ambulance service, visit www.bcehs.ca.

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