Paramedics will take over the Barrie Blood Donor Clinic later this month as a tribute to a fallen friend and colleague who lost his battle with leukemia.
This is the first OPSEU Local 303 blood drive being held in Brian Hekman’s honour since his death. He was 46, married and a father of two young children.
“He loved being a paramedic and found humour and positivity in almost every situation,” said close friend and longtime work partner Shelley Bischof, who described Hekman as “funny, smiling all the time, quick with a joke and a hug, a great partner. He was everyone’s friend.”
Prior to becoming a paramedic with Simcoe County, Hekman was a volunteer firefighter and worked with air ambulance in the north. He was also a proud member of the Simcoe County paramedics honour guard.
He was father to four-year-old Tyler and two-year-old Isla at the time of his death. His wife Lisa was by his side supporting him for the two years he fought his battle, Bischof said.
“Brian was a wonderful husband, father, friend and paramedic,” Bischof said. “He also had a great need for blood donations during his battle. By doing this blood drive, we’re able to honour this amazing man while also doing a wonderful service to the community for those who are currently in need.”
The blood-donor event will be held from 8 a.m. until noon on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 at 231 Bayview Dr., Suite 100. Local organizers are hoping to collect at least 64 units of blood. An eligibility quiz must be taken and appointments can be booked by visiting www.blood.ca or calling 1-888-236-6283.
“As paramedics, we see the great need for blood donation every day in the patients we see,” said Sean Sharp. “It’s through our job we are given the understanding of how great the need truly is.
“Not only do we see the need in the community as a whole, but have also seen increased cancer rates in our paramedic family, both within our service and all over the province,” Sharp added. “Some of our local paramedics have won their battles, others have lost, and for some, the battle continues.”
This is the first blood drive held in Hekman’s honour since his passing, but local paramedics did have a blood drive for him while he was still fighting the disease, said Sharp.
Local paramedics hope to hold the blood drives twice a year to coincide with Hekman’s birth date of April 4 and his exit date of Oct. 4, or 10-4.
“Our aim with organizing this blood-donor clinic in his honour is to help us as medics to not feel helpless, which, as you can imagine, is not a nice feeling for paramedics,” Sharp said.
“The blood donated by this community and our paramedic family helped give our Brian his ‘one more’,” he added. “It extended his life and gave him, and those that loved him, the ability to have that ‘one more’ ... one more kiss with his wife, one more snuggle with his kids, one more laugh with his friends, one more taste of the delicious nectar that is single-malt scotch.”