We are grateful to be here today and we give thanks to the many people who helped us. We were on the bus that crashed on the connector on Christmas Eve. Thank goodness, we were wearing our seatbelts! We were hanging from our seatbelts for about 30 minutes while the bus was evacuated while care was given to the injured. It was better than flying through the bus and hitting something.
People were really good about helping each other, retrieving whatever they could and staying relatively calm. Travellers in cars, stopped to let people from the bus warm up. Blankets got distributed, people shared their coats and let others use their phones to call family. At the scene, first responders quickly assessed and attached coloured ribbons to our arms, indicating the degree of injury, so that arriving EMT staff could go right to work.
All passengers were transported to hospitals by ambulance. We ended up at the Merritt Hospital. Others went to Kelowna, Kamloops and Penticton. At the Merritt Hospital, a nurse was assigned to people coming into ER, making sure we were warm and fed. She made connections with family members, connected with hotels, and prepared vouchers. One of the passengers, from the back of the bus, opened up a box of chocolates that was going to be his dad’s gift, and shared it with fellow bus passengers.
After we were discharged we were trasported by an off-active-duty police officer to the Best Western Hotel, where we were met by Emergency Services. We were given personal kits and they gave each of us their phone numbers so we could contact them at any time. The manager of the Best Western went beyond duty. She contacted a restaurant, which was providing dinners for needy people. She and some staff went down to get dinner for us, who were at the hotel on Christmas Day! It was lovely for everyone to sit and eat together.
Merritt Emergency Room arranged to have medications replaced during our wait. On our third day E-Bus offered to take us either back to Kelowna or on to the Lower Mainland. We chose to return home and were delivered right to our door. Our friends brought us dinner, which we really appreciated! It was lovely to be back home to some normalcy. The hugs and friendship helped, too.
Besides the value of wearing seatbelts on a bus, we are also reminded that we need to keep our faith in all Emergency Services. They may not be able to act as quickly as we all would like, but they were all there for us when we needed them. We thank all of them, profusely. The Best Western, in Merritt is also to be thanked for their care of us during our stay. In a time of “disaster”, people showed their true colours by helping others in need. What a great Christmas gift.
Jane and Don Rampone