Red Deer Emergency Services had a busy Christmas Eve and morning between alarm calls and medical emergencies.
“It doesn’t really change whether it’s the holiday or weekend or weekdays,” said Kyle Reimer, Red Deer Emergency Services lieutenant.
Reimer has also worked many Christmas days. He said every once in a while things slow down, but it has been a busy holiday this year.
Ben Barthel, acting lieutenant, said the city never sleeps.
“Everyone spends the holidays with their families, so it’s important somebody keeps watch,” said Barthel.
Six Red Deer Emergency crews were on call Christmas morning.
Barthel has been with Red Deer Emergency Services for 13 years, and he said the call volume has only gone up. It’s because Red Deer is a growing city, he said.
It’s not just the emergency crew who miss out on Christmas days, birthdays, Easters – the family bears the brunt of it, too. Reimer said not everyone in his extended family understands the nature of the job, and why he sometimes misses out on family gatherings.
“The longer you do shift work, the more you understand Christmas falls in that one- or two-week period, and we try to catch it either before or after our days off,” he said.
Barthel started earlier than he had to — at 7 a.m. Monday — so one of his coworkers, who has a young family, could get off work and spend some quality time with his family.
“It’s harder when kids are young, and you know they are waiting to dig into things underneath the tree,” he said.
The duo credits all those who work holidays from RCMP officers, hospital and emergency staff to gas station and coffee shop employees.
“It’s very easy to get irritated when there’s a line up at the gas station, and it’s important to recognize all these services are available because somebody is missing out on family time or down time,” said Reimer.