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Calgary's emergency responders surprise kids at Alberta Children's Hospital

Ropes dangled from the roof of the Alberta Children's Hospital all the way down to the ground, and at exactly 10 a.m., firefighters, police and other rescue professionals started rappelling.

On their way, they knocked on the windows and waved to the kids inside.

Constable Kevin Mathiesen with the Calgary Police Service tactical unit was one of the organizers of the event. He says it took more than a year to put together because of the pandemic.

"I've been calling it 'Rappelling with the Heroes,'" he said.

"We're not the heroes. It's the little guys inside that are the heroes, right, we just get to rappel and wave at them and smile at them and hopefully, you know, have a good time with them for a little bit and brighten up their day."

Members from the CPS tactical unit, Calgary Fire Department high-angle rescue team, Canada Task Force Two and RCMP participated in the one-day event.

Mathiesen says it wasn't hard to convince them to get involved.

"To get all those partners to buy in and to come down and be a part of it, it was an easy sell to everybody," he said.

"Everybody has been just excited to come down and be a part of it, for sure."

Carol Henke with the Calgary Fire Department says many first responders have personal ties to the Alberta Children's Hospital and want to do what they can for the kids.

"To be able to come to the Children's Hospital and to put smiles on the faces of kids that can't even leave the hospital, it's just incredible," said Henke.

"And for the families as well, because we have families and they get to interact with us in a non-emergency setting, which is really important to build that trust and that public engagement."

Margaret Fullerton, senior operating officer for the hospital, says children and staff alike enjoyed the show the first responders put on rappelling down their ropes, but also liked seeing the K9 and mounted units.

Rexkyrie Magwali, 3, just had surgery to repair his club feet. He'll have two casts for more than five weeks. His mom Katherine says seeing everyone in uniform climb down the hospital brightened his day.

"We were so happy because he likes trucks, he likes firefighters, he likes a police car, so we were watching out our window and he was so happy to see them," she said.

Breanne McNabb's son Maverick is almost two years old. The family lives in Camrose, Alta., and are here to see a specialist about his hand. They knew nothing about the event and were happily surprised.

"We went in the helicopter, we met the police horses, we saw the lights and the ambulances, fire trucks," said McNabb.

"It kind of made his trip."

Organizers hope to make the event annual.

"Practising here and looking through the windows and seeing the surprise and just the joy on kids faces," said Henke.

"It's immeasurable." Top Stories

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