Two days ago a paramedic I knew died. He was only 39! He was at work, driving the ambulance in Vancouver, and suddenly his body just collapsed and despite his partner, and as soon as possible the fire department, ALS and another BLS ambulance crew working very hard to revive him, he did not survive.
This was so tragic! It has hit everyone pretty hard around here, as he worked at our station and throughout the Fraser Valley for quite a few years. Also because he was so young! Tragic.
Today The Province newspaper reported on page A4 "Ambulance Driver Dies in Car Crash." I actually wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper regarding this article (the ambulance was moving at the time of his death, although he died from a medical condition and not from the crash that ensued). Here's a copy, with the paramedic's name removed (I don't feel comfortable publishing his name on my blog, although his name has been released and was in the paper).
I am writing in response to your article on page A4 of April 10th, entitled, "Ambulance Driver Dies in Car Crash." I am a paramedic and personally knew ----, who died of undisclosed medical causes while working in Vancouver on April 8th. --------'s medical training and experience extended beyond vehicle operations and had earned him the title of Paramedic. In the course of ------'s career he used this medical training to save a number of lives and improve the quality of many more. His experience included pediatric and neonatal care, adults presenting with heart conditions and strokes, motor vehilce incidents, sudden deaths, cardiac arrests requiring CPR, respiratory emergencies, drug overdoses, unconscious collapse of unknown causes, and many other serious medical emergencies. He was an exceptional person and a very hard worker who will be sadly missed by his colleagues, friends, and family alike.
My main beef, obviously, was that this paramedic died in the line of duty and was disrespected by a newspaper reporter by being called an ambulance driver. Most of the time that title only bothers me a little, since although I know I have medical training beyond the operation of an emergency vehicle, I don't really care if people think my job 'prestigious' or not. But when someone dies, it really is prudent to get their professional title correct.
There will be a full honours funeral for him next Tuesday in Chilliwack. I hesitate to use a cliche, but in this case it really was true that he died doing what he loved.