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St. Louis Operations Team

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09/17/2019

After almost 20 years as the go-to EMS crew for the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, a special trust and friendship developed between the head trainer for the team, Ray Barile, and Tracey Swabby, EMT and Business Development Manager. When the team went from last place to first, the Blues weren’t the only ones celebrating.

The relationship started when Swabby began giving a dozen mini cannoli’s (made by her Aunt Grace in her Italian bakery, Vitales), as a Christmas gift to her friend Barile. Over the years, as the partnership and tradition grew, so did Swabby’s repeated gifts of Christmas cannoli for Barile. However, Barile never seemed to get any as they always managed to quickly disappear. So, Swabby decided the tradition needed to change. Swabby began giving cannoli to Barile and members of the Blues every time the team won a playoff round.

The Blues started the season in last place. But the Blues did the unheard of—they started winning. Big time. And eventually made it into the NHL playoffs. “I was afraid the cannoli would make the team fat and slow them down,” Swabby said. “So, I said I’d stop bringing them, but jokingly said instead, I’d fill the Stanley Cup with cannoli if they won it all. I didn’t think I’d have to pay off that bet, but I gladly did,” she said.

There’s a tradition in the NHL that winners of Stanley Cup, the trophy awarded to the team taking the championship, give each member of the team a day to spend with the 34-pound silver cup to do anything with it, short of damaging it. This year, Barile, who said he feels a strong connection to the Abbott EMS crew as members of the St. Louis Blue medical staff, wanted to include them as part of his day with the cup. So, he agreed to bring the cup to our AMR St. Louis Operation and let our employees and their families have a chance to meet “Sir Stanley!” 

There were more than 700 Abbott EMS families who came out to see the Cup and cannoli bet get paid off. It ended up taking about three pounds of cannoli to fill the cup. 

TheCup-7.jpgThe timing of the Stanley Cup day couldn’t have been better for the AMR/Abbott EMS staff. The men and women needed a bit of a pick-me-up. “Ray really believes we’re a part of his team and the fact he wanted to include us was meaningful to everyone at Abbott EMS,” Swabby said. 

“I’m proud to say the event went off without a truck missing a shift—every truck, except two got to participate.”

IMG_2715.JPGIt’s clear Swabby is proud of her team and the relationship they have fostered with Barile and the Blues. She said they train together annually on and off the ice and have one ambulance for the ice at every game just for players and coaches of both teams. They recently added a second unit in case that one goes out. She oversees annual crew review of life-saving procedures on the ice, including using crew members dressed up in hockey uniforms as well as practice skills stations off-ice as well.

It seems obvious that the close relationship Swabby has worked so hard to foster with Barile’s staff and the dedication of the medics is what makes the teamwork so special.

“This all started with my silly little tradition of having my aunt make cannoli for the team at Christmas. I know it is the care partnership and teamwork with Ray and the Blues hockey team, not just the cannoli’s, that strengthens this relationship every year. Let’s Go Blues!”