Snow Angels Drive Hospital Staff to Work During Wintry Weather

Members of a 4x4 group volunteer to transport Victoria health workers to their jobs.

Jan 29, 2020

(Marina Poushkina / Shutterstock.com)

Snowy weather can be beautiful especially when you are inside looking out. When inclement weather hits Canadian cities like Victoria on Vancouver Island many workplaces close. Essential places like hospitals must remain open and that's where the snow angels come in.

Almost 100 people volunteer their time to drive hundreds of health workers to their jobs according to CTV News. They are members of the VI Toyota 4x4 group whose vehicles are set up for snow driving with bigger tires and clearance that can make it through deeper snow.

When a large snowstorm was due to hit earlier in January 2020, the group reached out to Island Health – the publicly funded health care provider for the southern part of British Columbia – to say that they were ready to spring into action.

The 4x4 group drove volunteered to drive workers when there was heavy snowfall in 2019. Afterwards, they started aFacebook page and that’s where the work rides are coordinated.

The volunteers are really happy to give a helping hand. "[The Staff at Victoria General Hospital] has patched me up a hundred times," volunteer driver Shelby Newcombe told CTV News. "They also delivered my little boy here, and I was also born here, so it is nice to give back to them."

While there are no charges for the service, Newcombe said that people are donating money for gas and giving them delicious homemade baked goods.

He said that he helped 20 people get to work on the first day of the January storm but that the number is low compared to previous storms.

"I've been running from Sooke all the way to Saanich Peninsula Hospital and anywhere in between," Newcombe said. "I've been driving all walks of life, from doctors to housekeeping staff, and have met people that I normally wouldn’t have."

Island Health noted that some people are equipped to drive themselves in bad weather and those people are offering rides to fellow workers.

"It's really heartwarming to see the community come together," said Andrea Boardman, corporate director for logistics and operations for Island Health. "Victoria is made up of a lot of municipalities but those borders don’t mean anything today, everyone just wants to help people get to work."

Other northern cities face the same problem. When St. Louis, Missouri was facing a winter storm warning in the middle of January 2020, SSM Health St, Louis Hospital told 5 On Your Side News that  they started putting out cots for staff to sleep on so they didn't have to worry about driving in the snow.

“We always have to provide care. Our hospital is very full right now, so we want to make sure everyone gets the care they need,” said SSM Health SLU Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Patti Kelley.

Kelley said that any staff member can use the beds, from doctors, nurses to even food workers. The hospital will even provide meals.

“When we have a snow emergency or any kind of emergency, we'll offer this to all of our staff,” said Kelley.

The SLU hospital is a level one trauma center, so they have to be staffed 24/7, rain or shine, or even snow.

The Vancouver snow angels say their goal is to make sure that all the patients at Island's hospitals are taken care of and that's why they do their part. Having people that are giving back to their communities is part of what makes this Victoria rank in the top twenty of the world's cities for quality of life. Even when it snows.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.