Paramedics are known for their compassion, but on Wednesday, they took it one step further when they turned a celebration to honour their contributions into a fundraiser for a suffering family.
This week, B.C. celebrates ambulance paramedic appreciation week with dozens of activities throughout the province’s communities.
Here in Kamloops, the medical professional gathered at the B.C. ambulance station on Clapperton Street for a barbecue — but the focus wasn’t on them.
Instead, they decided to raise funds for the Dufferin neighbourhood family that lost their home to fire last week when 48-year-old Denann Crosby strapped explosives to himself and took 44-year-old Sherry Young hostage.
Young’s four children, her boyfriend and his two small children got out, but she remained his hostage for nearly seven hours before Crosby let her go and ignited his explosives, killing himself.
“It was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe something like that could happen,” said Marnie Waller, the fundraising organizer who is a part time paramedic and a wife and mother of two.
“I was thinking about how hard it would be on us. I wanted to do something to bring the community together.”
Waller pulled the event together on short notice and used Facebook, a local radio station and several posted flyers to publicize it. Nonetheless, several dozen people showed up, many with their own small children.
Kimberlee Bryson donated by buying burgers, hotdogs and pop for herself, her seven-year-old son Connor and her eight-year-old daughter Kara.
The Bryson family is heavily involved in volunteering, said Kimberlee, if for no other reason than to empower the children in the face of such bewildering tragedy.
“It’s always traumatic when you hear something like that that involves a family,” she said. “You want to tell the kids without being frightening.
“This shows them what they can do rather than living with the fear of what they can’t do.”
Police are still trying to piece together what happened in the leadup to Crosby’s violent actions. Young said her relationship was just that of a co-worker (the place of work hasn’t been disclosed), but police insist they had a romantic relationship.
Crosby’s permanent place of residence also appears vague.
B.C. Coroner Service representatives said his family claims he’s from Langley.
But Kamloops RCMP media liaison Staff Sgt. Grant Learned called Crosby a Surrey resident, and a 2007 traffic violation occurred in Surrey.
Learned said local police are working with Surrey RCMP in a search of Crosby’s home. However, Surrey RCMP said they are not aware of such an investigation.
Crosby also has a criminal record in Alberta in property crime cases going back to 1983-84 and 1993 in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan.