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Aug. 26, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. - The simplest things can leave the greatest impact. We responded to a medical call the other day for an elderly lady that had fallen and hit her head.

Aug. 26, 2014, Port Severn, Ont. – The simplest things can leave the greatest impact.

We responded to a medical call the other day for an elderly lady that had fallen and hit her head. She was at a cottage and would be transported to a nearby marina by her daughter and son-in-law.

We met the paramedics at the marina and headed to the dock to await the patient’s arrival. When the boat pulled up at the dock, the patient was in the front seat of the boat and I could see that she had blood on her face from a cut on her forehead.

The boat was small, so the paramedics did an initial assessment from the dock while the patient remained seated in the boat. We were quickly informed that the patient, a small Asian woman, did not speak English, but her daughter could translate.


I have always been fascinated by paramedics and the way they obtain a patient’s history and establish the chain of events that occurred and necessitated our being there. I’ve seen some that are good at patient care, some that are great at patient care, and the (very) odd one that needs to work on their patient care, or their bedside manner, at least. But most, I find, have found their calling in EMS and just have a way with people – something that makes all the difference in the world in their line of work.

In this case, it was even more interesting to watch because of the language barrier, and the methods they used to communicate basic questions were very well thought out.

Once they determined that the elderly lady was fine to be moved from the boat, the paramedic and the daughter helped her up to the side of the boat near the dock. I happened to be holding the boat as she was getting ready to step out, so I took one hand while the paramedic took the other and the daughter helped from behind.

I recall noting how tiny her hand felt in mine and the significance of both physically and metaphorically taking a patient’s hand. She was a tiny, 78-year-old lady, afraid, confused and unable to understand what we were doing. Her daughter translated the important information to her, but I couldn’t help but think that, for the most part, she didn’t really know what was going on and had no choice but to put her trust in complete strangers that everything would be OK.

As we took the first couple of steps to help her to the stretcher, she started to cry. I looked over at the other firefighters and almost cried myself. How sad, but also, how reaffirming.

And that’s when it struck me that the simplest things can leave the greatest impact.

This wasn’t just another patient, it was someone’s mother. It could have been my mother. (I was reminded of that tiny lady the other day when I took my own mother’s delicate hand to help her down her stairs as she recovers from her hip surgery.)

When we take a person’s hand in our own, it’s a means of physical support, but it’s also a reminder that we are there to help, to assist, to carry the burden, and to make the moment easier, in whatever way we can. It’s a moment in time when our lives intersect with the lives of another, and although we may never see them again, we were there for them when it counted.

We should also be reminded to treat everyone with the care that we treat all patients (mother or otherwise), because those simple moments will leave the greatest impact. It’s why we got into this work in the first place.

Jennifer Mabee-Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. E-mail her at and follow her on Twitter at @jenmabee

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