Every year on the anniversary of our horrific accident Mike and I have tried to honor the local Rescue Squad who responded. These men and women are the true heroes. They are the ones who sometimes risk their lives to help others. They saved Olivia’s life on November 27, 2001.
We have asked ourselves two questions over and over the past 17 years. How do you thank the people who saved your child’s life and who were the individuals involved at this moment? We discovered the answer to the second question a few weeks ago.
Every year we visit our local Rescue Squad and drop off a note of thanks and a few gifts. Once Olivia learned about the fateful day she wanted to write the note herself and made sure we went on the anniversary of the accident or as close to the date as possible. Some years it was difficult to find a time when someone would be in the building to accept the gift. I recall one such incident when we stopped by four times before someone answered the buzzer. This year the anniversary fell on a Tuesday, Mike would be at work and our youngest daughter, Anya, would be at school. Olivia and I set out to take care of the gift.
In all honesty, I had taken a step back from going. It is difficult. So many memories come flooding back. As with many things in life I knew I had to be brave for her so I forged ahead. Luckily, there were three emergency medical technicians in the building when we arrived. Olivia handed them her homemade card and I presented the gift baskets. The gentlemen were very welcoming and asked her some questions. I asked if I could take pictures and they enthusiastically agreed. We stepped outside and they stood in front of one of their trucks for better lighting. The Chief asked for an email in case he wrote something for their newsletter and I gave him mine.
We expressed our gratitude one more time and headed on our way to lunch and manicures. Over the past few years, I have tried to make this day more of a celebration rather than a day of mourning. Yes, it is still a sad day for me but I was trying to turn the intention around.
The following day I received an email that shocked me. It was from another Batalion Chief who saw the thank you note while at a meeting. He thought the story sounded familiar and wondered if we were involved in a rescue call that haunted him all these years. I responded with more details and he confirmed he and his partner had been the first to arrive on the scene and they worked to save my girl.
We spoke a few days later and he relayed the story of her rescue after I told him I didn’t remember much about the accident. He explained when he approached the vehicle he thought she was sleeping and thought it was strange. It wasn’t until he put his hand on her chest he realized she wasn't breathing. The door wouldn’t open so he pulled her out along with the car seat through the already broken window. She was brought to the ambulance where they tried to get her breathing while immediately transporting her to the local emergency room. The details he remembered were unbelievable. He told me the memory of some calls is forgotten for various reasons but this was one that stayed with him over the years.
Mike, Olivia, and I arranged to meet him and his partner. I was a nervous wreck beforehand. I don't know why. Afterall, how do you thank the two men who saved her life. We contacted a local newspaper beforehand and asked if they wanted a "feel good" story. Surprisingly, our story appeared on the front page of our county newspaper. https://www.loudountimes.com/news/leesburg-family-reunites-with-life-saving-paramedics/article_bdba95a6-0538-11e9-9bf8-073b97959937.html
A local radio station interviewed me and ran a story the following day. https://wtop.com/loudoun-county/2018/12/a-proper-thank-you-that-took-17-years-to-deliver/slide/1/
We were thrilled to finally meet our two heroes and tell them how grateful we were for all they have done for our family. As expected they were very humble. I still don't feel we can ever thank them enough but how do you thank someone for saving a life?