They don't often get thank-yous.
Paramedics and EMTs arrive at sometimes horrific emergency situations to carry injured people away from danger and to hospitals. And then they're gone, often as quickly as they arrived.
There's typically no time for the mobile medical experts to talk with patients they treat.
That wasn't the case Monday as paramedic Cody Brooks and EMT Terry Masters, both of the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, accepted thanks from the grateful mother of a little girl they helped save in December.
“When I was holding Naomi that day, I thought we were going to lose her,” said Alysa Monnier, the girl's mother.
She thanked the emergency responders Monday in a conference room at ambulance authority headquarters on Hayden Street.
The then 8-month-old was on the floor with her mother at their Fort Wayne home Dec. 26 when the family dog – a 6-year-old Labrador mix named Zeus who had been considered “the sweetest dog” – suddenly attacked the girl. Maybe the girl got too close to a rawhide bone the dog had been given as a Christmas gift, Monnier said.
Naomi suffered an eye injury, and her left cheek was torn.
Monnier called 911, and Brooks and Masters were there in minutes.
“She came walking out of the house, and I don't know who had the most blood on them,” said Masters, who has worked as an EMT for the ambulance authority 13 years. “I've seen dog bites, but nothing like that.”
Naomi was rushed to the hospital, where she spent two days in intensive care. A plastic surgeon repaired her cheek, which bears barely noticeable pink scars.
Monnier said she thanked Parkview staff who treated her daughter at the hospital and reached out recently to the ambulance authority through Facebook to find and thank the men who first treated Naomi, now almost 18 months old. The family no longer has the dog, Monnier said.
Brooks, who has been a paramedic about six years, brought his 3-year-old daughter, Claire, to the news conference where he, Monnier, Naomi and Masters were able to meet for the first time since the attack.
“It's actually amazing to hear back from patients,” Brooks said. “It's pure joy when we hear we helped somebody and they're doing well.”
Her blond hair in pigtails, Naomi's blue eyes shone bright as her mother handed a cookie to her and offered goodies to other first responders who had gathered nearby.
“She looks a lot better now,” Masters said.