8 touching EMS reunions

These heartwarming reunions with survivors and family members show a ray of hope amidst difficult times

EMTs and paramedics often meet people on their worst day, but their lifesaving actions can ensure that patients can have many better days ahead. The opportunity to reunite with a recovered patient outside the setting of an emergency scene or transport can be a ray of hope and a reminder of the positive impact your work makes on the lives of others. Additionally, reunions with family members separated by the COVID-19 pandemic show there's a light at the end of the tunnel through even the most challenging of times. 

These eight heartwarming EMS reunions are a testament to the value EMS providers bring to their families and communities:

1. Video: Woman reunites with Ga. FFs who saved her 30 years ago

Jaqueline Luxenberg was just 5 years old when a fighter jet crashed into her apartment complex in 1989, killing two people, including her mother Margie Padovani. Luxenberg was severely burned but survived in part thanks to the actions of Smyrna firefighters and paramedics who treated and transported her, including now-retired Lt. Sam Wehunt and Firefighter/Paramedic Wes Vollrath. Three decades later, Luxenberg reunited with her saviors, and learned an amazing new detail about the incident from Vollrath: that Luxenberg's mother had been the one to carry her out of the fire before succumbing to her own injures. 

See the reunion video here:

2. Md. EMT reunites with grandmother, gives her vaccine after a year apart

Like many EMS providers, Montgomery County EMT Mike Rechen was forced to separate from a beloved family member in order to keep them safe from potential COVID-19 exposure. Rechen hadn't seen his grandmother Shirley Donaldson, 90, since the pandemic started, but when it came time for him to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, he was given the amazing opportunity to reunite with Donaldson — and immunize her against the virus that had kept them apart. "This is my grandson, my first grandson!" Donaldson said as she and Rechen embraced. 

Watch the heartwarming video below:


3. Fla. man reunites with rescuers after bus crash left him paralyzed 

Doug Haney was trapped for 30 minutes between the bus he was driving and a semi-trailer after a four-vehicle crash in 2016. The crash seriously injured Doug Haney, leaving him partially paralyzed in both legs, but Haney said the outcome could have been much worse if first responders hadn't worked as quickly as they did to free him and get him the treatment he needed. Four and 13 surgeries later, Haney reunited with the Orange County Fire Rescue crew that helped save him, and presented them with plaques reading, "Hometown Hero."  

See photos from the reunion below:


An Emotional Reunion: It was a reunion nearly four years in the making for one local man and the team of emergency...

Posted by Orange County Fire Rescue Department, Florida on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

4. Hall Ambulance (Calif.) crew reunites with safe surrender baby

About a year ago, Hall Ambulance Paramedic Marian Anson delivered a baby for the first time in her career, with assistance from her partner EMT Michelle Guidotti. After the birth, the baby was given up through California's Safe Surrender Program, which allows parents to safely and confidentially surrender custody of a newborn if they cannot care for them. One day later, the baby was taken in by a foster family, and on March 5, 2021, Anson and Guidotti reunited with the baby, named Oliver, to celebrate the finalization of his adoption. "Marian and Michelle were his first friends in the world and knowing that he was cared for by them really bridges that gap from his life before meeting us, as short as that may be, to his life with us," Oliver's mother said. 

See photos from the reunion below:


O Fish Olly Adopted! When the adoption of Oliver, a Safe Surrender baby, went through, his family felt it was important...

Posted by Hall Ambulance Service, Inc. on Monday, March 15, 2021

5. Fla. FF-EMT reunites with FF who helped save her dad, inspired her career

This next reunion involves a call that had a positive outcome in more ways than one. Delray Beach Fire Department Driver-Operator Crystal White not only helped save a patient's life, but also helped light the path to a lifesaving career for a future first responder. Palm Beach County Firefighter-EMT Danielle Bove said seeing White treat her father with professionalism and compassion five years ago is what inspired her to pursue a career in public safety. "She personally inspired me, just being a female, not knowing that, 'Hey, you can do this,'" Bove said after the surprise reunion. 

Watch the reunion video below:

The Moment That Changed Two Lives

The moment that changed two lives for the better… 5 years ago, Delray Beach Fire Rescue saved her father’s life and changed hers forever. As the crew compassionately and professionally treated her father, she took notice of the female firefighter - what an amazing job, she thought! She then decided to try it for herself. Fast forward a few years later, and now, Danielle Bove is a Firefighter/EMT herself with #PBCFR! It was her hope to someday meet the woman who inspired her. It happened. In this video. In this moment. COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE! Watch for yourself… Crystal White is a Driver Operator for Delray Beach Fire Rescue and the EMS Clinical Coordinator at Palm Beach State College. Danielle Bove is a FF/EMT with PBCFR and a few months away from completing her probationary year. #BeInspired #WomensHistoryMonth #Firefighters Delray Beach Fire Rescue We want to hear your story. Who inspired you to be the person you are today? Share a picture & your story in the comments below 👇

Posted by Palm Beach County Fire Rescue on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

6. Survivors of fatal collision reunite with rescuers 33 years later

It's never too late to offer a heartfelt "thank you." Three women who survived a serious vehicle crash as teenagers in 1987 never forgot about the first responders who saved their lives, but it wasn't until more than three decades later that all three were able to reunite with the two dozen firefighters, EMS providers and police officers who responded that day.

Shelley Rowland Engle, Marla VanTassell and Janis Astle met with the Jerome County, Idaho first responders in June 2020 to express their gratitude and introduce their heroes to their spouses, children and grandchildren. After sharing some of the things she's been able to accomplish over the last 33 years, Engle told the first responders, "None of what I just shared would have happened without you." The women also paid tribute to their friend, Linda Hall, who was killed in the crash. 

Hear the survivors recount their story and see photos from the reunion by watching the video below:

7. Paramedic reunites with son in hospice care

Paramedic Kendall Whitaker, who works in an emergency room at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida, had to make the heartbreaking decision to separate from her immunocompromised, terminally ill 5-year-old son Easton during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Whitaker worked on the front lines to provide for her family, Easton and his 7-year-old brother stayed with their grandparents. But thanks to an online fundraiser started by Whitaker's colleague, Nurse Todd Lemmon, Whitaker was able to afford enough time off to quarantine for 14 days and finally reunite with her sons on April 18, 2020. Easton passed away by his mother's side from congenital heart failure and pneumonia nine days later. 

See more of Easton's story and video of the reunion here:

8. Boy, 6, who called 911 for mom reunites with dispatcher, paramedic

Kids can be lifesavers too! First-grader Jakob Hindman, 6, of Belfast, Maine, helped save his mother's life after she suffered a serious seizure in January by staying calm, calling 911 and following the dispatcher's instructions to make sure his mom was still breathing and that her head was propped up. "His composure was just amazing. He was just as calm, and very polite," said Dispatcher Melissa Bisson, who said his call was the best call she had ever taken in her nearly 17-year career. She said when she got off the phone, she turned to a coworker and said, "This little boy deserves to be recognized."

The Belfast Fire Department ensured that Jakob got the recognition he deserved by inviting him and his family to meet with Bisson and Paramedic Debby Heath, who responded to the call, at the fire station in March. The first responders surprised Jakob with a medal, plaque and superhero cape decorated with department patches to honor his heroic actions. 

Do you have an amazing EMS reunion story you'd like to share? Feel free to submit your stories and photos to us at editor@ems1.com!

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