The Danville Fire Department and Firehouse Subs added a special flare to National Nurses Week on Thursday by organizing a parade outside Sovah Health-Danville that featured no shortage of bells and whistles.

Rather, no shortage of lights and sirens.

In an effort to thank nurses for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, more than a dozen fire department vehicles circled the hospital shortly before noon, honking horns, sounding alarms and blaring flashes of red and white as hospital staffers — still gloved and masked — waved, shouted and clapped.

After rolling down South Main Street in front of the main entrance, the fire trucks and rescue vehicles proceeded to the back of the building to continue their parade in view of hospital patients and other staff inside on the upper floors.

“This is a celebration of our nurses that take care of patients,” said Alan Larson, CEO of Sovah Health-Danville, “but also I think that they’ve done a great job of recognizing all of the team at the hospital.”

National Nurses Week began Wednesday and concludes Tuesday.

Ken Jones II, the general manager and franchisee of Firehouse Subs in Danville, said he and three employees started work at 8 a.m. Thursday to prepare seven platters of sandwiches for hospital workers. The restaurant also donated chips and seven gallons of sweet tea and lemonade.

Firehouse Subs locations typically have close partnerships with fire departments because the company founders were once firefighters. Jones said his father is the captain at station six on Westover Drive, so he’s known the city’s firefighters his entire life. He said Thursday’s donation to the hospital was special because he got to team up with the fire department in an effort to recognize other first responders.

“It’s just a pleasure that we were able to provide that type of service, being that nurses go way above what we do at Firehouse Subs,” he said. “Our part is to serve subs at our restaurant as well as contribute as much as we can to the community. That’s the biggest part, contributing to the community and making sure everybody’s playing their part with this pandemic going on.”

Danville Fire Chief David Coffey, whose wife is an emergency room nurse at a different health care facility, said he understands how overworked nurses can be under normal circumstances, and the pandemic only exacerbates that. He recognized the nurses in the crowd and applauded them for doing so much vital work that is usually out of the public’s eye.

“I know that these nurses daily are exposed to this pandemic, and I know they’re all stressed about taking it home to their families,” Coffey said. “They have a lot going on, and they just don’t get the recognition that I think they deserve.

“I know how often they are forgotten. We wanted to take an opportunity during National Nurses Week to say thank you and we appreciate you and we know that you’re here.”

The firefighters also delivered a stack of handmade cards with notes of gratitude for nurses and messages of hope for hospital patients.

“The patients miss having visitors, so the thank-you notes and the cards from the fire department are really special,” Larson said. “The staff’s in good spirits. We’ve received a lot of support from the community. I think they recognize that they're being prayed for.”