Three-month-old Jace Cahill goes face to face for the first time with Santa during his stay at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Santa made a surprise visit to NRGH’s children’s ward Tuesday to spread a little holiday cheer to young patients hospitalized through the holidays.

Three-month-old Jace Cahill goes face to face for the first time with Santa during his stay at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Santa made a surprise visit to NRGH’s children’s ward Tuesday to spread a little holiday cheer to young patients hospitalized through the holidays.

Santa trades in sleigh for helicopter to visit young Nanaimo patients

NANAIMO - Santa flies to town to visit children in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Santa caught a lift with B.C. Emergency Health Services to bring Christmas cheer to children in hospitals Tuesday.

Santa left his reindeer in the stable for the annual trip he makes with B.C. Emergency Health Services Infant Transport Team aboard an air ambulance to deliver small stuffed animals to young patients he visited in children’s wards in Nanaimo, Victoria General Hospital, B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

The annual toy run cheers children, but also gives paramedics a chance to meet families they normally only interact with during medical emergencies under happier circumstances.

Brittany Clarke, whose three three-month-old son, Jace Cahill, received a small stuffed TY puppy named Duke, said the thought it was “cool Santa arrived in a helicopter.”

“I thought it was amazing,” Clarke said. “I though it was special and very thoughtful of Santa to do that.”

Cahill was released from hospital later in the day.

Helijet International is a major service provider of dedicated medically equipped helicopters to the B.C. Air Ambulance Service of British Columbia.

“We’re thrilled to once again assist Santa on his air ambulance toy run to visit children in hospitals this holiday season,” Danny Sitnam, Helijet president and CEO, said in a press release. “Throughout the year our dedicated Helijet staff works closely with BCEHS paramedics to provide 24/7 helicopter service for hundreds of critically ill patients across B.C. Many of our patients are children, so all of us at Helijet are happy to help make this Christmas season special for these courageous kids and their families.”

To learn more about B.C.’s air ambulance service, please visit www.bcehs.ca.