May 20, 2019
Every day American Ambulance transports hundreds of patients to hospitals, facilities and appointments. Whether the task at hand involves a long distance transport to the southern tip of California or a high priority water rescue, our field crew employees encounter many different types of scenarios. Rarely is there a case where a patient and crew attend a rock concert, however. Until last December.
Dixie Barefield enjoying the Metallica performance at Save Mart Center. Barefield, RT Aldrete and EMT Rippee are all smiles
in the ambulance en route to the concert.
Fresno native Dixie Barefield had suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) for more than 10 years. After remarkably surviving an episode of cardiac arrest, she had been undergoing respiratory treatments with a therapist at Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC). The difficult recovery began to take a toll on Barefield, so her respiratory therapist, Cassandra Aldrete, thought of an idea that might boost her spirits.
Due to some limitations associated with COPD, Barefield's heart and lungs couldn’t quite handle typical hobbies and activities that require significant amounts of movement. Given this, her respiratory therapist posted the question- if you had one wish to do something outside the facility, what would it be?
This was a no brainer for Barefield. She is a diehard Metallica fan and wanted to see them in concert. As chance would have it, Metallica was set to perform in Fresno, California on December 9th, 2018.
Aldrete was determined to make it happen. Attending the concert presented a few unique challenges, so they got right to work. For months Dixie practiced breathing without her ventilator for short periods of time in order to improve her respiratory endurance. Meanwhile, CRMC contacted the Save Mart Center (the venue of the concert) seeking to receive approval for Barefield to enjoy the concert from the comfort of an ambulance gurney. With everything falling into place, there was just one more item to figure out...how are we going to get there?
When American Ambulance was contacted about the potential concert visit, they extended their services without hesitation. As such, Barefield was set to attend the concert alongside her RT, two kids, and two EMT’s-who were going along to ensure she was safe and able to enjoy the concert.
Dixie Barefield and family along with EMT's Holly Nickell, Stephan Rippee outside the concert venue.
Stephan Rippee and Holly Nickell had the privilege of serving as the on-duty EMS crew. Reflecting on the experience, Nickell said, “Every day, we meet people in their worst moments, and try to make it just a little bit better, but we got to be there for one of her best days, and that’s really something special.” Reflecting on what being an EMT means to her, Nickell says, “I love being an EMT, it’s the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. Whether it’s controlling a dangerous bleed, or just holding someone’s hand and saying, “I’ve got you”, we make an impact on someone’s life every day.”
Rippee shared that Barefield has been his patient for previous calls and that they began to form a friendship, making this experience extra special. He shared that this was “by far, hands down, my favorite call. I’ve had resuscitation and cardiac arrest calls, but this was way better”, says Rippee. He shared that he still stops in to visit with her whenever he’s in the area.
When asked what he loves most about being an EMT, Rippee simply stated “It’s right up my alley… helping people out, without asking for anything in return”. We certainly are proud to have a staff full of EMS practioners who truly reflect and embody the American Ambulance mission statement, "We care for people".
It was a privilege to be able to play a helpful role for one of our community members, and we are so happy that Dixie Barefield enjoyed her experience!