The cheeks of Kyrie Parimi hike up a bit behind a medical mask, as gripping the steering wheel of a firetruck brings a smile to the five-year-old’s face.
It was one interaction outside Victoria General Hospital on Wednesday, where Greater Victoria firefighters were on hand to try and spread some cheer to the hospital’s sick children and donate $25,000. Firefighters waved to families inside as their trucks rolled by the pediatric unit in the morning.
The funds are part of a renewed 10-year pledge by Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria Community Foundation to give $250,000 to the hospital’s pediatric and neonatal departments. The foundation committed to another $250,000 last year when its previous decade-long pledge wrapped up.
Avery Brohman, CEO of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, said the renewed funds are a testament of the firefighters’ generosity and dedication to the community’s youngest patients.
This year’s contribution will go toward portable cardiac ultrasound equipment for the pediatric cardiac care centre at VGH.
Emma Carrick, Island Health’s manager of pediatrics and the pediatric intensive care unit, thanked the firefighters for their ongoing support, saying it helps Island kids get treatment close to home. Victoria General Hospital has one of only two pediatric intensive care units in the province.
“This means we can offer intensive care for our newborns and children right here on Vancouver Island,” Carrick said.
“Thanks to our specialized care teams and through the support of donors like the Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria, who help fund leading-edge equipment, 98 per cent of pediatric care cases on Vancouver Island can be treated right here at Victoria General.”
One out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, ranging from being benign to more life-threatening conditions, Carrick said. The ultrasound equipment will be used to perform pediatric echocardiograms and to diagnose and monitor heart defects and other symptoms in newborns, infants and children.
The equipment will also allow bedside cardiac imaging procedures when a patient is too ill to move, something Carrick said can speed up diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment options.
“We look forward to this day every year because it means we can see the direct results of our efforts and efforts of our community,” said Taylor Britton, a representative for the firefighters’ foundation. “It’s an honour to play a role in (the hospital’s) vital work.”
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