My heart was touched by an exceptional story that I wanted to share. It’s about compassion shown by a paramedic from the Queensland Ambulance Service. This compassionate paramedic granted a dying patient’s last wish to visit the beach.
Queensland is a northern state of Australia that boasts an abundance of sunny tropical weather. The picturesque beaches comprise from soft sand bordering the water’s edge to high rocky edges giving anyone great ocean views. All types of water sports are enjoyed here, along with walking along the sandy shore. Queensland is also home to the natural wonder called The Great Barrier Reef. Tourists and people living locally here create such wonderful memories.
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The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) is a health care service responsible for the state of Queensland. QAS care to the community is the delivery of pre-hospital ambulance response services, emergency, non-emergency, pre-hospital patient care and transport services, inter-facility ambulance transport, casualty room services and planning, and the coordination of multi-casualty incidents and disasters.
An ambulance crew was sent out to collect a patient and to deliver her to the palliative care unit of the local hospital at Hervey Bay. On arrival, the patient requested that she just wished she could be at the beach again. Helen Donaldson, an Ambulance Officer at Hervey Bay, said: “Sometimes, it’s not the drugs/training skills; sometimes, all you need is empathy to make a difference.” Recalling the events, ambulance paramedic Graeme Cooper said:
“It was basically going to be her last journey back to her house where she was basically going to pass away. She was saying how she moved to Hervey Bay with her husband on the spur of the moment and they’ve been here ever since.
She said she loved the esplanade and the beach, and we said, well, do you want us to take you down by the esplanade and pop you out of the truck and give you a look at the ocean? She was just ecstatic. If you’re sensitive to your surroundings and what’s going on and you can seize a small window of opportunity, take it.”
The next trip to the palliative care unit would be the patient’s last as she was going to pass away in hospital. The ambulance paramedics, Danielle Kellan and Graeme Cooper, knew the patient from previous trips, and they understood what their patient needed, as Graeme recounts:
“This week, we actually got called down there to bring her back to the hospital and we said, how about that beach run again? She replied, oh could we? And we said absolutely. She said to Danielle, she’s content now and that is everything is as it should be. I thought, if all these rocks weren’t here I would get down to my jocks and take you into the ocean.”
Graeme used the woman’s vomit bag to scoop up some water and bring it to her, so she could put her arm in.
“I thought the next best thing is I can get some ocean and bring it to her, she actually tasted the salt water. I can’t describe the feeling when you’re in the situations with people. It’s just very humbling to have these experiences.”
Danielle, who took the photo, said she was privileged to be able to accommodate the woman’s request. She said to the patient:
“What are you thinking? She was looking out towards Fraser Island and she said: ‘I’m at peace, everything’s right.'”
Danielle said the response from social media showed there were other similar stories of paramedics going above the call of duty for their patients:
“It’s not just us, it’s right across the service. There are a lot of responses on Facebook today, it’s right around the world… there are stories today about other examples of the same thing; it’s nice to get a good news story out there.”