Paramedic Graeme Cooper and his patient
A touching Facebook post about a dying woman’s last wish has gone viral. It’s a great tribute to the warm-hearted care of paramedics.
A woman in her 70s from Hervey Bay, a seaside town about 1250 km north of Sydney, was being transported to the palliative care unit at the local hospital by the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) when she said that she wished that she could be at the beach again.
The beach is what Hervey Bay is all about. It’s a small but fast-growing city which attracts tourists for its miles of calm, unspoiled sandy beaches and opportunities for watching migrating whales. The eastern arm of the bay is formed by Fraser Island, a World Heritage site.
So, instead of heading straight to the hospital, the two paramedics, Danielle Kellam and Graeme Cooper, headed for an outlook over the bay. As the dying woman looked over the water toward Fraser Island, she told them, “I’m at peace, everything is right”.
Mr Cooper took a bag down to the beach, filled it with water and brought it back so that his patient could dabble her hand in the ocean for one last time.
“She was there with her arm in the bag and feeling the ocean and she actually tasted the salt water,” Mr Cooper said. “I could see her heart rate just accelerated. I can’t describe the feeling when you’re in these situations with people. It’s just very humbling.”
“Tears were shed and the patient felt very happy,” the QAS Facebook post says. “Sometimes it is not the drugs/ training/skills — sometimes all you need is empathy to make a difference!”
“Life is too fast today,” Mr Cooper told the Brisbane Courier-Mail. “We don’t take the time to take in the smell of the roses and look at the beauty around us.
In his experience, a simple gesture like picking a flower or pulling their sheets back so they could feel the warmth of the sun on their skin makes a difference to patients. “It makes them feel special again,” he said. “They know that people still do care.”
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.