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VIDEO: Reindeer get a break, Santa helicopters in for Vancouver Island visit

Old St. Nick drops in to check in on young patients at Vic General on Tuesday

Santa Claus gave his reindeer the morning off Tuesday as he landed at Victoria General Hospital in a helicopter to spread the season’s cheer to young patients.

“The reindeer are very skittish animals and to hear the sirens really frightens them,” Claus said in an interview with Black Press Media. “But I want to thank Helijet for volunteering to help me, because it’s a very frightening time for children and this helps remind them that Santa is still thinking about them and will find them on Christmas Eve.”

The Dec. 13 trip marked the 17th year BC Emergency Health Services and Helijet have delivered Santa for a visit to pediatric and other patients at the hospital, with Santa also flying in to visit patients at Nanaimo Regional General hospital.

Along for the ride was Joanna Stefani, an infant transport team paramedic, who said it was a nice change of pace to ride along with Santa.

“Usually I am flying with critically ill patients, but this time I got to fly with Santa to bring some joy,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s probably one of our busiest times of year with all the coughs, colds and flu coming, so it’s nice to have time to step back for a little bit.”

Annually, more than 7,400 patients in B.C. require air ambulance services, 14 per cent of them living on Vancouver Island.

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