May 22, 2019
A day in the life of an EMS professional frequently features high-stakes situations. Childbirths, respiratory issues, cardiac events, and traumatic injuries are but a few of the common occurrences that EMS professionals experience everyday. Even still, some of our most experienced crews will get a call unlike any they've responded to before.
On October 11, 2018 Paramedic Jamie Simonian and her partner were traveling northbound on Highway 41 during their Fresno Metro shift, when their radio sounded off.
Medic 118, priority 1, area of Tulare and 41.
Given their exact location at the time the call was received, Simonian and her partner were able to arrive on scene one minute after initial notification.
Quickly assessing the area, Simonian immediately recognized the gravity of the situation. Although unique challenges and scenarios are to be expected when working in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Simonian had to rely on her instincts and nearly 15 years worth of experience to provide aid and assistance given the delicate nature of the scenario. This was a situation outside of her training. Some twenty feet in front of her stood an individual inches away from jumping off of a freeway overpass.
With marginal experience or training related to behavioral psychology or crisis negotiation, Simonian reverted to what was natural...sincerely caring for a patient. Simonian established rapport with the distraught patient as she began to talk, and more importantly, listen to him. She constantly reinforced that he is not alone in his struggles, and quickly began to build a sense of trust.
As other agencies arrived, Simonian was urged to allow for the police officers to resume further de-escalation. However, Simonian felt that leaving the patient would break the emotional connection and trust she had developed, and things could possibly take a turn for the worst. She felt she needed to stay, and show the patient she truly cared about him.
Simonian, PD and Sheriff's Department all on scene to assist. Simonian kneeling on the overpass to talk to the patient though the fence.
When a trained negotiator arrived on scene, he immediately recognized the connection between Simonian and the individual. It was decided that it was best to allow for Simonian to continue. As the negotiator stood back while providing tips and guides to Simonian, the two proceeded with their genuine conversation. Two hours later, the patient safely exited the freeway ledge.
Jamie Simonian and Fresno CHP Sergeant Ed Jacobs who commended Simonian for her skillful intervention.
Simonian, her partner, and all agencies involved impressively fulfilled a civic responsibility that is held dear to those who opt to work in the EMS industry. A pledge...to be there for the community, often times amidst some of their greatest struggles, and to be a person that can be trusted to provide care and aid to those in need.