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A family reunites with paramedics to thank them

For Angela Couldwell-Torres, August 4, 2016 was the worst day of her life.
Angela Couldwell-Torres and her son Alejandro thank the paramedics and dispatchers who helped them
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She came upon her husband, dead. She panicked and screamed. 

Everything after that became fuzzy… but what she does remember is the helpful voice on the phone instructing her calmly and helpfully on what to do next. She also remembers a throng of uniforms rushing in. Police. Paramedics.  

Two years have gone by now. Angela and her son Alejandro will never forget that day. They're changed forever. But they will also never forget how those who rushed in, helped.

Reflecting back, Angela says the compassion from the emergency call-taker and the kindness and gentleness from the responding paramedics showed a knowing tenderness that she wanted to acknowledge.

Angela reached out to BCEHS and, with the help of Nahum Ip (district manager) and Andrew Kang (director, Vancouver Coastal districts), arranged to meet with those dispatch staff and paramedics of whom she often thinks.

"I wanted to thank them for all their help that day. Paramedics don't often get acknowledgement for all the good they do. They're special people," said Angela.

Steve Green remembers that call. "These are sad events," he said. "As paramedics we deal with these tragic situations daily. Often the most challenging part is not the clinical medicine but rather the emotional impact that connecting with the families brings."

Steve said that calls like these are as much about the family as they are about the patient; and that can be hard for some paramedics.

"We teach paramedics clinical and technical skills but we don’t have a lot of training on the softer skills – which was what made the impact for this family. Patient families notice whether or not we treated them with compassion. That’s where we made an impact with this woman. She remembered us because we stepped out of the clinical-medical side and made a connection with her,” recalled Steve.

Angela presented the paramedics and dispatch crew who could attend this day with flowers and gifts. She also gave them a plaque which will be engraved, not with the individual names of the crew who responded, but with the crew call signs: 246 A1, 258 Bravo-Charlie and Vancouver dispatch.

"It's not important that our names be on it because this recognition is for all of us in the service. I know any one of our crews would have done the same thing and had the same impact," said Steve.
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