Mary’s Story

The Words of One Member from Our District….

Mary, a Kinette member of District 4 found herself traveling a secondary highway with her 2 children on the evening of June 1st, 2012. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the day as she drove her children to visit with their dad for the weekend and no reason to think that anything would change that.

It was 7:03 when she turned onto that secondary road just like she had done many Fridays past at about the same time. Life was just fine and her mind was filled with thoughts of what activities would fill the weekend and the children’s chatter in the back seat was always a welcome noise. Nothing seemed out of sorts, nothing except the way that semi truck up ahead had just swerved on the road. Mary assumed that he must have been swerving for an animal and gave it no more thought for the next 10 seconds. That was how long it took to catch up and see the semi truck resting in the left ditch and the white crumpled minivan in the right.

At that moment the whole day and every day to follow changed for Mary.

Inside Mary’s mind…

Pull over,there is no shoulder, get the kids out of the car and into the ditch, ask the next person who pulled up just at that moment to call 911….ok now what…WHAT…WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO??


The driver of the semi is emerging from the ditch, he seems shaken but unharmed You have to go to that van, the other guy isn’t going to, remember, he is calling 911.

As Mary runs toward the van some previously untouched instinct kicks in as she reaches the mangled mess and peers through the passenger window which is now facing skyward.

First aid training takes over but there is something more, something else is driving her. All Mary knows is that you can’t move these crushed bodies and you can’t leave them for a second because every second counts. Just keep talking is all she remembers and that is exactly what she does. A young man appears from somewhere unknown and is shaking. He announces that the young ladies in the car are his employees and their names are Sarah and Suzy. He can’t bring himself to come closer.

Mary hoists up the passenger door and reaches into the van. warning Suzy that she is going to touch her arm and when she does, momentarily, Suzy’s hand raises slightly. It’s easy to tell that time is ticking away and every second counts. unfortunately for Sarah, time runs out before help can get to her but Suzy, Suzy is still here and Mary knows it because of the laboured shallow breaths that are the only movement in the van now.

Suddenly it is clear what is driving Mary, she recalls attending a Kin District Kinvention in Red Deer and there was a stunningly beautiful lady who was the guest speaker. She had talked about being in a head on collision and remember being outside of her body and looking down on her crushed self inside the car, she remembered hearing her sister yelling her name. Over and over her sister just kept repeating her name and telling her to stay here, stay with her and listen to her voice. That speaker emphasized how important it was that her sister never gave up and just kept yelling for her to stay right there with her. STARS Air Ambulance was able to transport the speaker to a hospital within the “Golden Hour”* and her life was saved because of it.

This was the lesson that was driving Mary’s reactions and so for the next 13 minutes she just kept repeating as loudly as she could, I am here Suzy, You stay with me!! Don’t you go anywhere else, you stay right here as close to my voice as you can. Please don’t go anywhere! Help is coming Suzy, can you hear them? they are coming. Suzy, don’t you leave me. Your family needs you Suzy…..

over and over and over.

When help finally arrives it is with reluctance that Mary steps away. Mary has no idea if Suzy is going to live or die but she knows in her heart that had she not attended that District 4 Kinvention she would never have known just how vital it is to keep talking and to keep Suzy engaged and present. In those moments when Suzy seemed farthest away it was most important to just keep talking to her and feeling Suzys petite hand stir under hers as she stroked her to maintain contact confirmed without a doubt that what she was doing was right.

Mary left the rest to the professionals and in the following days tried to obtain information on Suzy. It seemed now that Suzy was a part of Mary and she had to know.

After 2 days, Mary finally got an answer, it wasn’t a great answer but she was told that after a couple of transfers to different hospitals that were unable to serve her needs Suzy was taken by way of ambulance to the Foothills Hospital in Calgary. She was alive and in the ICU where they expected her to remain for an undetermined amount of time. At that moment the outcome couldn’t be determined but she was alive.

Over the next several weeks Mary heard of the many of injuries that Suzy had suffered. Crushed bones, damage to internal organs, and loss of some brain function were just a few of the effects. Recovery would take months if not years and there were no guarantees.

It has now been over a year since the accident and due to the family’s request, no further information has been released.

Unfortunately STARS Air Ambulance couldn’t yet serve the region where Suzy’s accident took place and deliver her to the best care within the “Golden Hour” so it is unknown if Suzy could have had a quicker recovery but it is known that without support, that fact will never change.

I tell you the story of Mary so that you might think a little deeper about your own personal connection with STARS. You don’t have to be someone directly served by STARS or have a family member or friend who has been rescued to make the connection. STARS saved the speaker at that Kinvention, She was able to influence Mary’s life with her retelling of her experience and in hand, perhaps, was able to save another life.

There is no doubt that regardless of whether STARS can get to your town or not, it matters to the lives of all of us.

*Golden Hour – the hour immediately following traumatic injury in which medical treatment to prevent irreversible internal damage and optimize the chance of survival is most effective