AIRDRIE, Alta. — An Alberta paramedic who unknowingly treated her own daughter after a fatal crash brushed away tears Tuesday as she remembered a beautiful girl who fought until the end.
Jayme Erickson was called to the crash north of Calgary on Nov. 15 and sat with a seriously injured girl who was was extricated from the vehicle and taken to hospital, where she died.
It wasn't until Erickson got home at the end of the day that she was met by RCMP officers, who told her the patient was her 17-year-old daughter, Montana.
Erickson shared her grief with reporters, describing her daughter as a success at everything she set her mind to, an avid swimmer who had aspirations of becoming a lawyer. Erickson expressed her wish that her daughter's namelives on.
"She was a fighter and she fought until the day that she died and she was beautiful. She was so beautiful. If she ever put an effort into anything she would always succeed at it," said Erickson at an Airdrie firehall with family, paramedics, police officers and firefighters standing behind her in a show of support.
"She was a very funny girl and we all loved her very much."
Richard Reed, a friend and flight paramedic, broke down a number of times as he recounted Erickson attending the scene where a car had lost control and was struck by an oncoming truck.
Reed said the driver was able to get out of the car but the female passenger was trapped with serious injuries. Erickson was the first person on the scene.
He said Erickson knew the girl was in trouble and sat there until she was extricated and transported to hospital by air ambulance, still unaware of who it was.
"On her way back she expressed her grief and frustration to her partner, knowing that later a family would likely lose their daughter, sister and grandchild. A short time after arriving home, there was a knock on the door. It was the RCMP," Reed said.
"On entering the room, to her horror, she found the girl that she had sat with in the back of the crumpled vehicle keeping alive, so the family could say goodbye, and due to the extent of her injuries was unrecognizable, was Jayme's own daughter," he added.
"Jayme unknowingly was keeping her own daughter alive. As both a parent and a first responder, I can tell you this is beyond a nightmare that any of us could have conceived."
Erickson said her daughter, who "loved fiercely," was able to accomplish one last selfless act.
"Montana was able to give one last gift. She was able to donate her organs and of her organs, two of them that were donated were life-saving," she said. "We're so happy that our baby girl is living on through others and she has in the wake of this tragedy saved other people.
"We know it's what she would have wanted and we are so proud of her and we're going to miss her very, very much."
Fellow paramedic Deana Davison spoke about the mental health challenges of the job. She said Erickson had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after attending a horrific pediatric case, and became "fearful of every move her daughter made."
"Intense fear every day that the worst-case scenario would play out for Montana," said Davison.
"These things stay with you forever. We are all just one call away from never doing this job again. It brings to light, once again, that this horrific nightmare could happen to any one of us."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Erickson family with their expenses.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press