After tragedy, paramedics find strength in community, each other

Someone You Should Know

When you’re a first responder, your days are full of interruptions — and so are your holidays.

“We average 20 to 30 calls per day, just with the 911 calls,” explains Jennifer Murphy, a paramedic with Metro Area Ambulance.

“That’s the job we chose,” says Joshua Davis, the Deputy Chief of Operations of Metro Area Ambulance. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Murphy and Davis have spent a combined 13 years serving Bismarck-Mandan. That includes a lot of holidays — but they say it’s not so bad.

“We still get together with our second family,” Murphy says. “This is our second family.”

The crew on duty today will still gather around the table for a Thanksgiving meal here at the station — ready and willing to be interrupted. “If we have to go, we have to go — take to-go bags as we need to,” Murphy says.

But this year, Thanksgiving will not — cannot — be the same.

Four days ago, the community was rattled when an air ambulance plane, carrying pilot Todd Lasky, nurse Bonnie Cook, and paramedic Chris Iverson, went down shortly after takeoff.

The tragedy leaves the Metro Ambulance family one member short — and has them contemplating exactly what it means to be thankful.

“This is gonna be a tough year for us,” Murphy says through tears. “We talk about dysfunctional families. In our crew, we’re dysfunctional, but we are family. And so, I am so thankful for my coworkers. I’m so thankful that we have each other’s backs.”

“Accidents and tragedies do happen, but we still have a job to do,” Davis says. “We have to support this community. We wanna take care of them the best way we can, and we show up every day and we put on our boots and we go to work.”

So today, as you settle in for a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends, be thankful for our first responders: the people who we depend on — and for the next little while, are depending on us, too.

Murphy and Davis say they’ve received an outpouring of calls, letters, food, and supplies in the wake of the tragedy.

If you want to show your support – you’re encouraged to donate to the Bismarck Air Medical Memorial fund at Starion Bank, in memory of Todd Lasky and Chris Iverson.

A memorial account through the CHI St. Alexius Foundation has been set up as well, to support the family of Bonnie Cook.

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