When medics reside in the territory in which they work, they expect to get called to emergencies of an acquaintance. But to hear your own address is surreal. For Cypress Creek EMS 911 dispatcher and EMT Michael Parker, this became a reality on October 4, 2014.
Following graduation from Klein Collins High School, Michael enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program and was granted one of the Cypress Creek EMS scholarships. Soon after receiving his EMT patch, Michael signed up as a volunteer at Cypress Creek EMS to serve his community.
Michael had been volunteering for several months when that fateful call came in announcing a “fall” at an all-too-familiar address. He immediately informed his fellow medics that he needed to rush home. He assumed that his elderly grandmother, who lives with him, needed help. Arriving home, he saw something completely unexpected. His mother was in cardiac arrest and the EMTs were performing chest compressions. “I walked into my mother’s bedroom and saw the Lucas CPR device attached and pumping on my mother,” Parker said, “At first, I was in shock, but then my training kicked in, and I starting asking what needed to be done.”
The In-Charge Paramedic and Supervisor on scene recognized Michael and questioned why he was on scene. When Michael explained that the patient was his mother, they immediately asked Michael if he was comfortable working his own family member. He assured them that he was. “Michael stepped right in and helped us. He was calm and focused on the tasks at hand. I really think his training kicked in and he knew he had to detach from the situation in order to be of the most help to his mom” said the supervisor on scene, Mike Brown.
Michael’s mother was loaded onto the ambulance and a heartbeat was restored, what medics call Return Of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) . Sadly, despite this move in the right direction, Michael’s mother never recovered. Michael and his family made the decision to take her off life support and donate her organs in order to save other people.
Michael ‘s tragedy helped him to become a more compassionate medic. His personal experience dealing with a family member in need of EMT services made him realize the impact of EMTs not only on the patient, but also the family. Michael also learned, firsthand, about the brotherhood of the EMS family. While Michael stood in the hallway outside of the Houston Northwest trauma room where the ambulance brought his mother for definitive care, he was comforted by fellow EMTs. Some of these EMTs were from Cypress Creek’s closest neighboring agency, the Harris County Emergency Corps, who did not know Michael prior to that day.
Two weeks after Michael’s mother’s death, he signed up for a volunteer shift on the ambulance. “I had to get out of the house. I had to get out of my room, and do something productive,” states Parker. Michael signed up to work a shift with one of his favorite crews, and coincidentally, the ambulance assigned to that crew was the ambulance that had transported his mother just two weeks earlier.
In reflection, Michael said that he found a silver lining to him being present the day of his mother’s tragedy. “I got to see first hand that everything that could be done was done, and it was done well. People I knew and trusted were giving my mother the best possible care. No stone was left unturned when it came to trying to save my mother” said Parker.
At just 18 years old, Michael was not old enough to be hired as an EMT with Cypress Creek EMS at the time his mother’s tragedy transpired. However, Michael got hired in the Cypress Creek Communication Center and has been working as a 911 dispatcher at Cypress Creek EMS for just over 1 year. Michael is currently a student in the Cypress Creek EMS Paramedic Program and plans to move from dispatch to the ambulance once he graduates.
This story of hope and healing for Michael would not have been possible without the Cypress Creek Scholarship Fund.