A group of staff members at the Peace Arch Hospital is set to receive the Vancouver Police Department's greatest civilian award following their actions during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot.
June 15, 2011 was supposed to be a day for celebration - it was supposed to be the day that Vancouver finally brought home a Stanley Cup. Instead, the day will go down in infamy, as Vancouver descended into a riot zone following the Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.
With hundreds of thousands of people in and around the downtown core for the event, the defeat quickly turned ugly as rioting began almost immediately following the local team's loss. Businesses were broken into, cars were torched and people were attacked - it was something that the Peace Arch Hospital's Catherine Mastine thought she'd never be a part of.
Having gone to watch the game with colleagues from the hospital, Mastine never thought she'd find herself in the middle of a riot, let alone helping to treat the injured when things began to turn violent.
"We went down to enjoy the festivities hoping we were going to win," said Mastine.
"We didn't expect it to turn out like that. We could see fires, smoke and lots of people. We were trying to basically get out and we didn't realize our limo wasn't able to come into town to pick us up."
Instead, Mastine and her group ended up getting tear gassed and had to turn back toward the downtown core when they came across an unconscious man needing assistance.
Mastine and her group, most of which were ER nurses, as well as one doctor, immediately began treating the man. It was then that the VPD asked them for further assistance, and the group split off to assist others. The group ended up helping treat three people that day, including a stabbing, during which the PAH's Dr. Lourens Perold had to use an ungloved hand to ensure the wound was OK.
"There were no gloves, no equipment, nothing to protect ourselves," said Mastine.
Aside from Mastine and Perold, the others involved were nurses Jennifer McDuff, Anna Csepregi, Lisa Snider, Tina Stewart and patient care coordinator Kam Dhami.
Now, a year and a half later, Mastine and her colleagues are about to be honoured on Jan. 9 by the VPD for their help during the riot, the Chief Constable Award of Merit, the police department's highest award for civilian bravery.
"I'm just really shocked and surprised about the whole thing," said Mastine about the award. "When we were at the riot and doing those things, that was the last thing on our minds. Working daily in emergency, that's just a daily thing, to help people. This time it was just in a different environment."