A Canadian paramedic who responded to a road crash last week and worked to help a teenage casualty was unknowingly treating her own daughter.
When Jayme Erickson arrived at the scene of the crash on an icy stretch of Alberta highway on November 15, she found a teenage girl with severe injuries that Erickson knew were probably fatal. Owing to the severity of the girl’s injuries, Erickson could not recognize her.
Erickson worked for nearly half an hour to remove the girl from the vehicle and stayed with her until the teenager could be airlifted to a nearby hospital in Calgary.
When Erickson got home at the end of her shift, she was met by police officers who said her 17-year-old daughter, Montana, had been the victim of the crash. She was advised that the injuries were “not compatible with life” and Montana was taken off life support.
“The critically injured patient I had just attended to was my own flesh and blood. My only child. My mini me. My daughter, Montana,” she wrote to family and friends. “Although I am thankful for the 17 years I had with her, I am shattered and left wondering. What would you have become, my baby girl? Who would you have been?
“I am shattered. I am broken. I am missing a piece of me. I am left to pick up the pieces and expected to carry on.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in the community of Airdrie, Erickson, flanked by family and colleagues, eulogized her “firecracker” daughter. “She was a fighter and she fought until the day she died and she was beautiful,” she said. “She was so beautiful.
Richard Reed, a friend and fellow paramedic, broke down multiple times as he told reporters about the scene of a crash, where a car with two teenage girls returning from dog walking had lost control and was struck by an oncoming truck.
The driver was able to leave the vehicle, but the passenger, Montana, was trapped. Erickson was the first on the scene and later expressed sadness and frustration to her husband that a family was likely to lose their daughter.
“As both a parent and a first responder, I can tell you this is beyond a nightmare that any of us could have conceived,” Reed said.
Erickson said she wanted the world to know about the daughter she had lost. She would love fiercely if you were her friend. She would love you to the end of the world and back and she would do anything for you. She was a fighter. And she fought,” she said.
A competitive swimmer with ambitions to attend law school, Montana had been able to give “one last gift” to those in need. “She was able to donate her organs, and of her organs, two of them that were donated were lifesaving,” Erickson said. We’re so happy that our baby girl is alive through others and she has in the wake of this tragedy saved other people. We know it’s what she would have wanted and we are so proud of her and we’re going to miss her very, very much.”