James Cook is a burn survivor who has spent years in recovery and is now sharing his incredible story and is saying thanks to the ones that came to his aid. Cook shared his appreciation in person with everyone who helped him on that fateful day, the paramedics Jeff Schultz and Jim Miska and the ambulance call officers (ACO) from the Lindsay Central Ambulance Communication Centre, who all responded to the call at the Haliburton County Paramedic Service (HCPS) base in Haliburton recently.
Cook was at work one winter morning and the propane heater that was in the building, exploded. His first thought, and looking back, the one thought that probably saved his life, was to hold his breath.
“I just knew when I saw the blue flame, I had to take a deep breath and hold it as long as I could,” he said.
Cook ran out of the building and threw himself into the snow, face down. As he lay in the snow, in excruciating pain he felt his keys and phone underneath him and asked Siri to call 9-1-1. His phone contacted 911 where he spoke with Paula Mogg, Christopher Roscoe, Laurie McIntosh and Christina Stoppa, the ACO’s that remained on the phone with Cook until the paramedics arrived. Cook was very appreciative to them for talking with him and keeping him calm.
When the paramedics arrived responding from the Tory Hill base, Cook came out of his truck where he had been sitting after he came up from the snow. Cook stated that he never lost consciousness and he remembers everything from that day. The paramedics brought him into the ambulance and started to treat his injuries and pain. Enroute to Halibuton hospital they provided the details of Cook’s injuries to the hospital staff and prepared for his arrival. Ornge Air Ambulance was contacted and Cook was flown to Toronto after he was stabilized in the emergency department.
Cook was flown to Sunnybrook Hospital where he could begin his recovery. After significant burns to his body, a multi-year recovery, COVID pandemic, he is still grateful for the first responders and healthcare staff who cared for him on that day.
HCPS thanks Mr. Cook and his beautiful family for spending a few hours and answering the hundreds of questions we had. Paramedics respond to many calls throughout their careers and quite often some follow them into retirement wondering what happened after they left our care. We understand why the information isn’t available but appreciate former patients that take the time out of their busy lives to come and say thanks and share their story … it is truly priceless and how we continue to do the work that we do.