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Taking care and leaving teddy bear

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John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press 
Amelia Stephenson, with parents Ray and Angie and dog Molly, hugs the bear first responders gave her after her family�s car accident last month.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press Amelia Stephenson, with parents Ray and Angie and dog Molly, hugs the bear first responders gave her after her family�s car accident last month. Photo Store

Angie Stephenson didn't know where else to park her "thank-you."

She had tried dropping by a fire hall and, when that didn't work, she called the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service offices. The woman on the phone told Angie they don't get many thank-yous, but promised to pass along her thank-you letter. But that didn't seem like enough for Angie. She wanted to give them a basket of goodies, but she only knew the three paramedics -- Jane, Adam and Brendon -- by their first names.

And by their caring ways.

Which is why she emailed the Free Press about an incident that gave her a new respect for what the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service does routinely every day and night.

In this case, it was a Saturday night in late May and Angie had decided to pick up her transit-driver husband, Ray Stephenson, after work. She placed her 21/2-year-old daughter, Amelia, in the car seat, put their dog, Molly, in the front seat, and off they went. It was just before 10 p.m.

Their 2012 Chevy Equinox was on St. Mary Avenue heading home to Charleswood with Ray riding in the back with his daughter, the way he always does.

Then they reached Garry Street.

First there was the jarring crunch of the impact. Then their SUV was spinning out of control.

Another vehicle had struck them broadside.

Angie said the other driver, a 25-year-old man, had run a red light by the Canada Post building.

The only ones injured in the collision were in the Stephenson's car.

Angie had "blown out" the rotator cuff on one shoulder, Ray had hit his head and hurt his arm. Amelia had cut her arm on the seatbelt.

The other family member in the car, Molly the dog, appeared uninjured.

Nearly two weeks after the collision, little Amelia was still pointing to her injured arm and recalling what happened in these words:

"Bang, bang, crash, crash."

Understandably, in the moment at the corner where it happened, Angie was angry. Or, as she expressed it.

"I was freaking out."

Specifically, she was angry with the other driver.

"How could you go through a red light?" she recalled yelling at him. "He just kind of looked at me."

By that time, emergency vehicles were on the way. It was when the first responders and paramedics arrived Angie's anger gave way to gratitude.

"The firefighter who held Amelia said 'Don't worry, I'll take care of your little girl.' "

The firefighter gave Amelia a teddy bear to hold. She's still holding on to that bear and carrying it everywhere with her.

"He took care of her while my husband and I were being taken care of by the other paramedics."

Another firefighter reassured Angie and Ray about Molly the dog. If they couldn't find anyone to take her home, Animals Services would look after her until they could pick her up themselves.

When they reached Health Sciences Centre, Angie was impressed by the way the paramedics comforted and stayed with them until they were placed in a treatment area.

And how, hours later, the paramedics she only knows as Adam and Brendon returned with another patient, but made the effort to visit and see how they were doing.

"I was still on a stretcher," Angie recalled, "and I was crying."

When Brendon asked why she was weeping, she told him.

"Because you guys care so much."

I can guess what some of you are thinking. They were just doing their job, what's the big deal?

The big deal to Angie and Ray is how they made the family feel it was more than a job -- that Angie, Ray, their little girl and even their dog really mattered.

That's what made Angie want to tell the first responders and paramedics what they meant to her and her husband that night.

And what did it mean?

Well, maybe a little background is in order on the Stephensons and the precious little girl who was in the back seat when her little world went "bang, bang, crash, crash." .

Angie is 42 and Ray is 60.

"It took us five years to have her," Angie said. "She's our little miracle."

Now you know why Angie and Ray are so grateful and thankful to the members of the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service for what they did.

Because they're so grateful for what they have.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2013 B1

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