Stamp recognizing first responders presented to life-saving paramedics
Just a week shy of the third year anniversary of a car accident that saw her trapped in a mail carrier van, postal worker Teresa Graham had the opportunity to thank face-to-face the first responders who climbed into the vehicle with her and worked to free her from the wreckage.
The paramedics first on the scene at the 2015 accident – Krystal Ryan and Deeno Pearsell – were joined by fellow paramedics, Canada Post representatives and Teresa alongside her husband and daughter at a presentation held on Nov. 30 at the Minden post office. When given the chance to present a stamp from a new countrywide series honouring emergency responders – Canadian Armed Forces, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and search and rescue experts – the local branch reached out to the paramedics who helped their employee.
“We thought it would be very befitting to formally thank you for all of your service you do in the community,” said Kim Wood, postmaster. “I know it’s 24 hours, seven days a week service that you’re providing and we just wanted to let you know that we appreciate it very much.”
Teresa said the first people that came to mind when she heard of the stamp presentation were the paramedics she has been thinking of for the past three years.
“The reason being because without you guys, I wouldn’t be standing here right now, literally standing here right now,” she said. “It gives my husband and my oldest daughter here, it gives us closure. It was a rough day, a rough week, it’s been a rough recovery.”
Teresa was driving her regular mail route in December 2015 when she swerved to avoid hitting a deer on Kashagawigamog Lake Road and ran into a tree. The steering column caught her in the ribs, while the motor itself was pushed into the right hand drive vehicle and crushed her legs. She broke both legs, her feet, four ribs and required almost five hours of emergency surgery to repair her legs and avoid amputation.
“I have about five pounds of steel in my right leg, they were able to put my left leg back together,” she said of her recovery after the accident, which she called an “uphill battle,” that has left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I do appreciate the fact that you guys gave me my life back, left my kids with a mom and my husband with a wife,” said Teresa, in tears. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“It changes your life in a blink of an eye, all of a sudden, everything’s fine,” said Dave Graham, detailing the phone call that alerted him to his wife’s accident. “ ... that’s how fast your life can change. You know, it’s upside down in a second. I thank you guys ... if it wasn’t for you guys doing your jobs...”
The five-stamp tribute recognizing the life-saving efforts of emergency responders and was launched by Canada Post in September.
“Each design features a single resolute figure in the foreground with a scene representing the teamwork, cooperation and determination required to be among Canada’s emergency responders,” reads a Canada Post press release.
The designs can be purchased in a book of stamps, a pane or as official first day covers. Teresa said she appreciates the efforts of Canada Post in recognizing the work of emergency responders, and for giving her the opportunity to meet with them.
“To be able to actually say thank you to them, I mean, there’s not enough words you can put in a letter. Lord knows I’ve tried,” she said. “When it comes to paramedics and the firefighters that were there that day, there was not one moment you could say someone was selfish. They were there, and I was their focus. Not that I want to be the focus of anybody. The thing of it was, she didn’t think twice, he didn’t think twice ... Not once did they have any panic in their voice, which was probably the most relieving. For me, I stayed calm through the whole thing.”
Kim Wood, postmaster, presented the stamp alongside Teresa to Jim Young, Jo-Ann Hendry, Krystal Ryan, Tim Waite and Deeno Pearsell.