Front line heroes

It was a tremendously sad day last Friday when the world learned that four crew members – two pilots and two paramedics – lost their lives while en route to a patient. Our hearts and prayers go out to the surviving families of these fallen heroes.

I worked at Ornge from 2010 until the summer of 2012. I didn’t know any of the four who perished – many of us who worked for the corporate side of Ornge were kept “siloed” from the front line personnel. But I knew how hard they worked and how dedicated they were (and continue to be).

One day I even experienced it first hand.

Ornge HQ (which was dubbed the “Crystal Palace” by the media once scandal broke) has an impressive staircase in the main foyer. Several people had tumbled down it, which had inspired one exec to declare that the next one who falls down it will be fired. Well, that next one was me.

It was just after nine a.m. and I had forgotten my blackberry in my car that morning. As I started down the stairs, my foot went out from under me, and down I went. If anyone who fell down a flight of stairs could possibly be considered lucky, it was me: almost all of the medics were at Ornge that day! Within seconds, one of the paramedics I did know was by my side and another near my feet. Many more were nearby with neck braces, a back board, you name it. They were kind and professional and efficient. This period of time is hazy for me so I don’t have total recall but I do remember that there was a paramedic – one of the new guys, I believe – crouched behind my head, stroking my cheek and telling me it was going to be okay. They shielded my face so I couldn’t see any blood and kept me calm, telling me that everything was going to be okay.

(After a trip to the hospital by ambulance, at least one broken bone, staples in my leg and a head injury, I started to mend, thanks in large part to Ornge medics).

Just days later, all hell broke loose in the media. Through all of the shit, the front line personnel – the paramedics, the pilots, the call centre dispatchers, and countless others – went to work and did their jobs with the same level of professionalism and care, as they did before December 2011. They didn’t have the luxury of hiding in the corporate offices. Confronted with public anger, these men and women continued to do their jobs; making sure that the critically injured received excellent treatment and care; and making sure patients were flown from wherever they were injured or sick to wherever they needed to be for care.

They were already brave. And now they were braver still.

Through all of it – politicians screaming at each other in the Legislature and front pages, daily, shouting devastating headlines – these medics and pilots continued to make sure that the sickest of the sick had the best possible chances for recovery. Even when criticism and abuse was hurled their way. No matter what.

We lost four of the finest last Friday. If you can, please donate to the Ornge Employees Benevolent Fund to show your thanks and appreciation to those who risk their own lives while trying to save ours.


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