Nomination as submitted to the Indiana Emergency Response Conference:
Recognition to Paramedic Diana Lantz and EMT-Advanced Jeromy Yadon
Paramedic Diana Lantz had been working in the EMS industry for over 15 years with more than ten (10) years in the TRAA system. She is a seasoned veteran as a field paramedic; her clinical skills are impeccable and unmatched among all who work at TRAA.
Advanced EMT Jeromy Yadon stands well over six feet, four inches. His stature alone may be intimidating to anyone who meets him for the first time. With that said, he is the most caring, warm, and compassionate person to his patients, and to whom any family member would want to have in the back of an ambulance taking care of their loved ones. He has received several recognitions for this by his patients calling in to the TRAA office to praise him.
Private Eric Zeiger, a Fort Wayne Firefighter from Station 10A, drove the ambulance throughout this surreal event. He has shown amazing acts of determination, critical thinking and decision making in the presence of extreme danger.
On September 9, 2012 our service was involved in one of the most peculiar, horrific, and unforeseen events that we have ever seen before in Ft. Wayne. We have in the past, been recipients of someone’s fist(s) beating against the ambulance from an emotionally distraught patient or family member, a potato gun tossing fruit onto the truck, a rock riffled from the back of a vehicle traveling in front of an ambulance that takes out a windshield, or even an infrequent and random bee-bee gun fire pelting the side of and denting an ambulance. It is even more rare that someone has fired gunshots in the vicinity of and given a pot shot or two at or near an ambulance.
But never has our service seen this type or level of destruction, where an ambulance is peppered with multiple gunshots with reckless and unwanted disregard for the safety of caregivers, where perpetrator(s) attempt to do harm or take a life. You only hear about similar events in some other State, and involving someone else’s service.
As the perpetrators approached from behind the ambulance, they openly fired upon the ambulance. The two rear windows were shot out, and as the assailants drove up to and around the ambulance, they continued to exhaust rounds from their weapons, rapid firing, and putting holes into the entire driver side box of the ambulance, up to and including the left front fender. Jeromy stated that it was extremely loud when the shooting began – like the sounds of M-80 are going off inside the back of the truck.
Kudos’s certainly go out to Diana Lantz and Jeromy Yadon. They not only maintained a calm demeanor and kept their composure, but also displayed acts of heroism under fire as each of them continued taking care of their patient lying of the cot. Jeromy sustained glass and slug fragments into his left elbow and left flank that required treatment at the Trauma Center. Their true character was also displayed and well represented as each of them were ready to go back into service and work until the end of their shift that morning - had management let them!
We cannot forget the heroic acts and decisions made by Eric Zeiger. While he may not be paid by the same agency, Firefighter Private Zeiger was chosen to drive the ambulance into the Trauma Center. While driving he insured the safety of himself, the front family passenger as well as the crew and the patient in the patient compartment of the ambulance. Eric also was able to peek and obtain a visual on the suspect vehicle as it drove away allowing this to be relayed to the Fort Wayne Police Department as well as allow the decision to be made by all of the responders to continue, without stopping or delaying any care, arrived with patient at the Trauma Center.
When an event such as this strikes our EMS family so close to home we feel vulnerable, violated, threatened, and our safety and stability is shaken. However, and fortunately for these acts of terrorism, they are extremely rare. As a result of recent events, it gives us an acute heightened awareness to the dangers of the job, that for this unforeseen set of circumstances, it is cause for reflection that we do live and work in a very different society than what we have seen some 35, 20, 10 and even 5 years ago.