Emergency workers from across the country traveled to McLennan, Alta. Monday for the funeral of John O'Mahony, an EMS worker who was killed in a highway collision last week while out on a call in northern Alberta.
As many as one thousand people attended the service. Some came from as far away as Nova Scotia, said the president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, Elisabeth Ballermann.
"I saw people from Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, from of course, around the province," she said. "We had a huge contingent of workers in their bright yellow jackets lining the road as the funeral procession took John to be interred."
O'Mahony, 65, died Dec. 6 on Highway 2 west of McLennan when the ambulance he was driving collided with a trailer hauling propane tanks. He died at the scene.
Ballermann believes O'Mahony is the first union member to die on the job in the 40-year history of the HSAA. Union members across Alberta held a moment of silence in O'Mahony's memory at 11 a.m. Monday.
A second EMS staff member, a patient and a family member sustained non-life threatening injuries. They were all taken to hospital in stable condition.
The union is making a $10,000 donation in O'Mahony's honour, as well as in the name of his injured partner, to the construction of a monument for injured and killed workers that will be built in Edmonton.
O'Mahony worked with EMS for 24 years as an emergency medical responder, emergency medical technician and EMS manager. He worked with the Smoky River Ambulance Service from 1979 to 2002.
He also spent more than 35 years working as a math teacher at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School in Donnelly, as well as working with EMS on a full-time, part-time and casual basis.
After he retired in 2008, he worked as a casual emergency medical responder with Alberta Health Services.
O'Mahony was an avid bird watcher, environmentalist and naturalist, as well as a member of the community choir.