Paramedic Jayme Erickson spent more than 20 minutes trying to save a seriously injured crash victim. At the time, the Canadian paramedic did not realize the person she was treating was her 17-year-old daughter - whom she had not recognized because of the severity of her injuries, and who would die a few days later.
“My worst nightmare as a paramedic has come true,” Erickson wrote, documenting the details of the 15 Nov. collision that killed her only child.
As an emergency responder, Erickson was the first to arrive at the scene of a serious car crash in rural Airdrie, Alberta, where she and her colleague found two teenagers, driving home from a dog walk, had been injured after their vehicle collided with a truck.
The passenger was trapped, critically injured and needed to be extracted from the vehicle by fire services, Erickson recounted. As the crew worked to remove them and fly them to a nearby hospital, Erickson stayed inside the vehicle, by the patient’s side, for more than 20 minutes, tending to her, making sure her airway was clear and doing, she later recalled, “whatever I could.”
After an air ambulance flew the passenger to Calgary’s Foothills Medical Center, Erickson returned home at the end of her shift.
Within minutes the doorbell rang. It was police, informing her that her daughter Montana had been in an accident, so she rushed to the emergency room.
“On entering the room, to her horror, she found the girl who she had sat with in the back of the crumbled vehicle, keeping alive ... was Jayme’s own daughter. Jayme unknowingly was keeping her own daughter alive,” fellow paramedic Richard Reed told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
Montana died on Nov. 18, three days after the crash, after doctors told Erickson that Montana’s injuries “were not compatible with life.”
The driver of the car and the passenger of the truck survived, according to local media. Royal Canadian Mounted Police say an investigation into the crash is ongoing.
“The pain I am feeling is like no pain I have ever felt, it is indescribable,” Erickson wrote. “The critically injured patient I had just attended to, was my own flesh and blood. My only child. My mini-me.”
Erickson wrote on social media that while she was “thankful” for 17 years with her daughter she couldn’t help but wonder: “What would you have become, my baby girl? Who would you have been?”
In the wake of Montana’s death, other first responders have highlighted the emotional toll being an emergency worker brings, with many paramedics carrying a fear that they may one day be called out to an incident where a victim is known to them.
Several emergency responders joined Erickson, her husband and Reed, who has been acting as the family’s spokesman, at the news conference Tuesday to show their support. Many were visibly emotional as they spoke to reporters.
“Jayme’s traumatic story is affecting first responders across this country,” paramedic Deana Davison said. “It brings to light once again that this horrific nightmare could happen to any one of us.”
Speaking to reporters after her daughter’s death, Erickson said Tuesday that Montana was “so beautiful.” She said the teenager was listed as an organ donor so her death had given others a chance at life.
“We’re so happy that our baby girl is living on through others and she has in the wake of this tragedy saved other people,” Erickson said.