Thirty years after she was tragically killed on the job, Carol Schlamp’s collegues and family continue to honour her memory.
Last Thursday (Jan. 26) a memorial was held for Schlamp, a paramedic assigned to Station 214 (Hope). The service, which started at 10 a.m and finished at 2 p.m., took place at the Hope ambulance station, with a procession of paramedics and ambulances leading everyone to Schlamp’s memorial plaque, near the Rotary sign. Despite the cold and rainy weather, around 30 people — consisting of Schlamps’s colleagues, family, and friends — came out to honour her.
“It was a good turnout,” said Larry Kennedy, who organized the service. Kennedy, a now-retired paramedic who worked in the ambulance service for 41 years, was the acting unit chief of the Hope ambulance station when the crash took place. “We weren’t really sure what to do [leading up to it] because, sometimes after 30 years, you’re just not sure. I mean, obviously, most of us that were connected [to Carol] still honour the day. But you kind of wonder, well, do we still do something? And it just kind of grew and it was evident that a lot of people thought it was important.
“No, absolutely, it definitely was successful.”
After the service concluded, those in attendance were invited to the Mountainview Brewing Co., to continue sharing stories and words about Schlamp and her impact. Many of the paramedics in attendance worked with Schlamp and remember her as a bright diamond with “the purest of light.”
Schlamp, who was from Vanderhoof, was assigned to Hope in 1989 after eight months in the ambulance service. On January 26, 1993, while driving back to the station from Chilliwack, the ambulance she had been travelling in slammed into a rock wall, killing her instantly. Her colleague Scott Romine, who had been driving the ambulance, survived after being brought to the Chilliwack General Hospital.
“She had very strong Christian beliefs. She was just very calm, very easygoing,” says Kennedy. “She was an amazing woman with patience. And she was one of those people that, I said over the years, did the job for the right reasons.”
Schlamp was the third paramedic, in B.C., to lose her life while on duty. She left behind four children — Wendy, Jamie, Michelle, and Shawn — and her husband, Pete Schlamp.
”It was important for me to stay in touch with [her family],” says Kennedy. “I kept in touch with them and they certainly had their struggles with [her passing].
“But it was important because I wouldn’t have wanted to wonder, ‘whatever became of them after this catastrophic thing happening to their family’?”
Though only her granddaughter and her daughter, Michelle, could attend the memorial service, Schlamp’s family expressed their gratitude to Kennedy and to everyone for keeping their mother’s memory alive.
In fact, Schlamp’s eldest child, Wendy, emailed a speech to Kennedy to read aloud during the memorial.
“Thanks to each and every one of your for caring for mom and for us,” said Wendy. “Thank you for remembering. Thank you for showing that mom’s life and her sacrifice was valued. Not just to us as family but to her colleagues and so many others as well. We deeply appreciate every one of you.”
Kennedy, who was part of Schlamp’s 25th memorial service in 2018, says that he hopes — through honouring her and sharing her story — that paramedics will be more careful when performing their duties. It is still uncertain what caused the tragic accident though falling rocks and rainy conditions were suspected to be part of the crash.
“My wish is that paramedics slow down and are just more cautious when going about their everyday,” says Kennedy. “At the end of the day, we all want to return home to our families. And Carol didn’t.”