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Erica Maddison

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09/19/2016

AMR Cheyenne

My name is Erica Maddison. I am a paramedic and supervisor for AMR Cheyenne. One evening I took a call from a nurse at Davis Hospice. She started by detailing a very special situation that required a transport by our operation. One of their patients was not expected to make it through the night. His wife had been continually by his side at hospice --in fact they had not been apart over night throughout 57 years of marriage—but had just been admitted to the hospital earlier that day with a GI Bleed and had required emergency surgery.  The family was split between hospice and the hospital.

The wife’s nurse had already convinced the wife's surgeon to let her go visit her husband.  He agreed, but said only for a couple hours as she was post-op and needed medications that could only be administered in the hospital.

Initially when I got the call from hospice, I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to help. The operation in Cheyenne is very small, running 12 hour shifts with only three ALS  and one BLS car on at most times.  I had just sent one ALS on an out-of-town transfer which would have only left 2 cars on throughout the county. I ended the call telling her that we did not, unfortunately, have the resources to help. As soon as I hung up however, I quickly realized that my partner Reed and I would be getting off shift soon. Without any hesitation, we decided to stay and take this woman to see her husband, possibly for the last time.  I called the hospice nurse back and she was ecstatic. She finalized all the plans on the hospital side while Reed and I went to get our truck back in order. I asked the oncoming crew to go in service a bit early so we could get to the hospital.

We transported her and her daughter to hospice. When we arrived at hospice his room was filled with a number of family and friends. We rolled her in on the cot and put the bed rails down on his bed so they could see each other. He immediately seemed to perk up a bit, and they instinctively reached over to hold each other's hands.

Reed and I waited in the hall so they could spend time with their family. I came back in every 10-15 mins to check on her. Every time I came back in they seemed so content just holding hands, I don't even remember hearing either of them speak to the other. When it was almost time to go back to the hospital the whole family stepped out and we gave them a few minutes alone. When we came back in they were still holding hands.  Everyone said their goodbyes and we headed back to the hospital.

This stoic woman who had just said goodbye to her husband, started crying on the way back, she just looked at me and said "you don't know how much this means to me, thank you.” It was with great effort that I was able to hold my tears back.

I have to say I'm tearing up just writing this, not because someone's life was ending, as his family said he led a very fulfilling life surrounded by loved ones, but the display of pure, undying love. They didn't need to speak to each other, they knew what was happening. They just needed to hold each other's hands.

How many of us can truly say they have ever experienced that kind of love? It was beautiful and inspiring. So many times in our careers people tell us we changed someone’s life or we saved someone's life, but on this night, a beautiful couple changed mine.

L-R: Reed (Erica's Partner) and Erica Maddison