The joy of hugging a resuscitated patient

From one call to another, paramedics are exposed to situations that are often dramatic, sometimes happy. As part of National Pre-Hospital Emergency Services Week, three Urgences-santé life savers have agreed to talk about the moving interventions they have experienced.

Wet eyes. The knotted throat. A short moment of silence. Although he’s told the story dozens of times, paramedic Toy-Mathieu Fortier can’t help but be emotional when he thinks back to the “man’s play” whose life he saved during a a routine call in 2019.

The first snow of the year fell on Montreal. The wind was cold. The one who had more than 10 years of experience at the time was finishing his shift when he received a call for a man in cardiopulmonary arrest, in Anjou.

The paramedic used a semi-automatic defibrillator once on the patient, then a second time. Suddenly, the sixty-year-old’s pulse returned.

As is always the case in their profession, the paramedics did not hear from the patient after his transport. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it is rather rare that resuscitation maneuvers save a person’s life, according to Urgences-santé.

Chance would have it

Thus, Mr. Fortier, who had remained marked by this call, sincerely hoped that his patient came out unscathed.

Then, by the greatest of chance, the two men met again the following summer. While he and his partner were walking the streets of Montreal during their lunch break in search of an ice cream cone, Toy-Mathieu Fortier thought he recognized the residence where he had worked the previous year.

“And then there, I saw him doing work outside on his house,” he said, his throat tight. I’m sorry, every time I talk about it, it makes me emotional. »

Even if he was unconscious during the intervention, Jean-Marc Yelle immediately made the connection.

“It was really moving as a moment, because it is thanks to him and the other speakers that I am alive today, says the 68-year-old man. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to thank him. »

With heavy hearts, the two men wanted to hug each other, but since it was the start of the pandemic, they couldn’t. Toy-Mathieu Fortier remains marked by this fortuitous encounter.

“That’s why I do my job,” he said. To see this gentleman continue his life and work on his house, it puts a balm on all the other dramatic calls that we could have made before. »

A very moving intervention

Valérie Cyr, Paramedic

Courtesy picture

Valérie Cyr, Paramedic

The panic in the air, the number of witnesses and the amount of blood remain images engraved forever in the memory of Valérie Cyr, who intervened with Romane Bonnier in October 2021.

When she arrived on Aylmer Street, in the middle of the afternoon, the paramedic quickly realized that something serious had happened when she saw emergency responders running in all directions.

When she saw the seriously injured young woman on the ground, she quickly went into “robot” mode.

“It’s as if there’s a halo forming around me and I’m 100% focused on my patient,” she explains.

Stabbed many times, probably in a marital context, Romane Bonnier already had very little chance of survival when the paramedics arrived. As the terrible crime had occurred in the middle of the street, very close to McGill University, dozens of passers-by and students attended the scene, grouped around.

“There were many lacerations and a lot of blood,” said Cyr. The bandages I’ve been using for 20 years and have always performed well didn’t even stick. We knew that there was no more coincidence with life, but we still had to try to save it. »

After the event, and for the first time in her career, Valérie Cyr was highly upset.

Contrary to her habit, she did not want to discuss it with her peers afterwards, and instead preferred to isolate herself to go and clean her ambulance alone.

different body

“I felt that my body was different,” she explains. I hardly slept, my heartbeat was irregular and I was unable to bring my stress level down. The next day, seeing my colleagues, I exploded and cried, deep sobs. »

It must be said that in the days preceding the murder of Romane Bonnier, Valérie Cyr had tried to resuscitate a two-year-old child and had performed a delivery “on the corner of a street”.

She had just experienced a great accumulation of stress.

“Humans are not made to see that,” she says. It is a part of us that we give for others. You have to be vigilant to the warning signs because I am convinced that there are a lot of paramedics who are secretly in post-traumatic shock. »

The trauma of watching a child die

Jean-Benoit Gince, Paramedic

Courtesy picture

Jean-Benoit Gince, Paramedic

Paramedic Jean-Benoît Gince’s father’s heart sank the day he had to respond to a call for a 7-year-old girl scalded to death.

“I just don’t understand how it can come to this, always wonders the one who has more than 20 years of experience in the field. I love my children unconditionally and let’s just say that that night I hugged them tighter than usual. »

Previous injuries

Through the burns that covered more than 80% of the victim’s small body, previous injuries were visible, such as bruises and an arm in plaster, the paramedic recalled.

“His chances of survival were almost nil, we knew that,” he explains. She was in cardiopulmonary arrest. The trauma to his body was so extensive that it was initially impossible for us to know if it was a boy or a girl. »

The atmosphere in the house was also striking for him, while he felt few emotions and reactions from those close to the girl. The horrific scene remained forever etched in his memory.

“Seeing a senior die at 90 of a natural disease is never pleasant, but it follows the normal course of life,” he says. But seeing a child die from a preventable cause is truly traumatic. »

After this terrible call, Jean-Benoit Gince, also a supervisor, hastened to organize a debriefing with all the paramedics involved to ventilate.


But he quickly realized that he himself had a great need to talk. That he had experienced trauma. He therefore turned to the Urgences-santé peer helper program, which allowed him to talk to a colleague trained to intervene in such a situation.

“Sometimes it’s just misplaced pride, but it feels good to talk about it. »

To this day, Jean-Benoit Gince still wonders how this tragedy could have been prevented.

The child’s mother has been charged with criminal negligence causing death since the event.

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