A parade of emergency responders in Williams Lake sounded off their appreciation for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sirens and lights could be heard and seen Saturday evening as the vehicles driven by members of Central Cariboo Search and Rescue, Williams Lake Fire Department, Conservation Officer Service, BC Sheriff Service, and nearby volunteer fire departments made their way down Western Avenue through the parking lot of Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

“Chief Rick White, his family is all involved within Search and Rescue, and his daughter Laurel who is one of our auto ex captains mentioned it to him Friday night and lo and behold 100 Mile House did this exact same thing Friday,” said CCSAR public relations coordinator Debra Bortolussi.

“So as those pictures were going up on social media members of our team saw it and Rick got a hold of WLFD Deputy Fire Chief, Rob Warnock and started talking with him.”

As one CCSAR member is a conservation officer and another a sheriff, Bortolussi said they had then started further networking to make the appreciation sound off happen.

“And of course everyone was more than happy to jump,” she said.

The Williams Lake RCMP was also contacted and Bortolussi said Inspector Jeff Pelley was fantastic and made sure that members of the RCMP would be involved.

“It wasn’t hard at all,” she added. “As soon as people saw what 100 Mile did everyone automatically wanted to do it and there wasn’t even a question about it, people just started making it happen.”

Because there was not enough room in the CMH parking lot, the group made up of nearly 40 vehicles paraded twice past the hospital where about a dozen health care workers stood showing their appreciation of the gesture.

“It’s just all of us coming together as professionals and first responders just giving our respect and our appreciation to these people for are doing their part, and not only just for those at the hospital but for those in care facilities, for those who are caring for our elders, for those working at the grocery stores, for truck drivers, for those still working in fast food and all these things that are keeping us fed, keeping us healthy, and taking care of us,” Bortolussi said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, she said it is their intent to do an appreciation sound off again in the near future.

“As long as it works for everyone and as long as it’s a happy, good resourceful disturbance, I think it is something that we would love to do again,” Bortolussi said. 

“Maybe even weekly just so we can continue to have that support there and really just to try in the community together to give something exciting so that when people in their homes hear those sirens, it’s not a negative thing and something based out of fear. It’s something based out of community support and excitement.”