Windsor's Survivor Day reunites first responders, people saved

·1 min read
Gisele Marie Bellemore embraces paramedic Luca Distefano, one of four first responders honoured for saving her life, at Essex-Windsor EMS Survivor Day on May 27, 2022. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Gisele Marie Bellemore embraces paramedic Luca Distefano, one of four first responders honoured for saving her life, at Essex-Windsor EMS Survivor Day on May 27, 2022. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Last year, Gisele Marie Bellemore was found in respiratory distress by one of her sons.

She had lost her pulse, but using CPR, shocks and airway management, paramedics who arrived at her home were able to revive her.

But she wasn't out of the woods. She was later told she lost her pulse 19 more times before finally pulling through.

Her story was one of 34 highlighted Friday at the Essex-Windsor EMS Southwest Ontario Regional Base Hospital Program Survivor Day. The event celebrates survivors of medical trauma and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, along with those who saved their lives.

"You get the chance to meet the people that saved you, that were part of saving you. It just means the world, 'cause I was written off. They were going to pull the plug," she said. "But the work from my sons and the EMTs and the hospital, the ICU, the CCU, the ER, everybody really put everything together and saved my life."

The event, which was held for the ninth time, was postponed for the last two years due to the pandemic.

Those who responded to Bellemore's emergency — paramedics Shawn May and Luca Distefano, as well as firefighters Luke Huberty and Michael Sfetkidis — were honoured at the event.

"It's a big day for not only myself but for my colleagues, Windsor Fire, my management, the employer," Distefano said.

"This just goes to show why we're out on the road and we do what we do constantly and whether it's the ... overtime shifts or just even shift overrun, working longer than we should, this is why we do it. It's to have people have their family back."

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