I woke up for my shift on Medic 15 one Saturday morning in late February and rolled over to check the phone for messages. I was in no way prepared for the message I received from Indianapolis EMS Command.
Several hours earlier, at 3:37 a.m., Medic 50 was hit downtown, driving non-emergent with no patient on board as it crossed the intersection of St. Claire and Senate under a flashing yellow light. A two-door sedan blew a flashing red light and struck the Type III ambulance in front of the left rear wheels. Medic 50 flipped on its right side and slid down Senate until it was stopped when the cab was crushed against a parked car. Tim McCormick, 24 year-old EMT and private with Indianapolis EMS, was driving. Cody Medley, 22 year-old paramedic and IEMS specialist, was in the right seat. Both sustained fatal head injuries. Tim died at the scene. Cody died a day later in the ICU.
I had worked with Cody several times when he didn’t have a partner on Medic 18. He was young and brash and enthusiastic and always a pleasure to work with. I recognized Tim but hadn’t had the chance to work with him. Since that awful day, I have learned much about them both, and what remarkable young men they were. In the weeks since the crash, the public has had a chance to learn about Cody and Tim.
Others who knew them well have written about these two wonderful young men, their lives and their contributions. What I would like to do is give one paramedic’s thoughts on this past bittersweet week
In January 2011, I wrote a column titled “Happy Birthday Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services,” about the merger of Wishard Ambulance, the county hospital based EMS, and Indianapolis Fire Department EMS. On Dec. 26, 2010, they became one third service alongside police and fire. I wrote then that “EMS is the bastard stepchild of public safety. The Johnny-come-lately. The poor cousin. There isn’t an EMT in the country who would disagree. The only question is, how do we change our status?” One model, the one I preferred, was the one taken by the merger—the third-service model.
This past week, when Tim and Cody died, we were a little over two years into the merger. There have been ups and downs, advances and setbacks, some turf battles and bruised egos on both sides. These things are inevitable. But there has been real progress, not least of all the welcoming of IEMS into IAFF local 416.
I drove to work on Saturday morning very sad and not knowing what to expect. When I arrived at headquarters to begin my shift the parking lot was packed with command vehicles and news vans. I worked shifts on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday, and I am writing this on duty on Medic 54 a week later at a table on the apparatus floor behind Engine 54. I was able to watch the week unfold, and along with the sadness, each day brought me a sense of hope and wonder.
I admit that I was a cynic Saturday morning. How much would anyone outside our service really care about two young EMTs, only a couple of years on the job, dying in a traffic accident?
I was a paramedic in Worcester, Mass. in on the night of Dec. 3, 1999, when the Cold Storage Warehouse Fire claimed six firefighters in a black maze of death. I witnessed thousands of firefighters from all over North America and beyond come to embrace us in our sorrow. I was on duty in the EMS tent when thousands filed passed as local crews sifted through the rubble to find their brothers’ remains. I saw the universal outpouring of grief and support when my hometown was devastated on Sept. 11, 2001, when 343 firefighters and paramedics and 59 police officers perished in the rubble. So how much would anybody care about two young EMTs?
I was wrong to be cynical. Every day I witnessed a flood of caring for those two young men and their families and their colleagues so far beyond what I had expected it was like a dream. Weeping police officers hugging in the street; tough inner city firefighters choking back sobs at a debriefing at the union hall; intense and caring media coverage; a stranger knocking on the window of Medic 21 on Wednesday night as I waited for my partner in front of Kroger to share his grief and offer his support and his thanks.
The city of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Fire Department and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department couldn’t have done more to honor Tim and Cody and support us in our sadness. The memorial for the boys on Wednesday filled the Butler University auditorium. IFD took on most duties to free IEMS to grieve. The Indianapolis Firefighters Emerald Society led the processional. The hall was filled with Class A Uniforms and brass from all the services; the love and support was palpable. The State Police provided an honor guard for the salute, and a bugler who played taps as clearly and as sweetly as I have ever heard it played. The Mayor and Council Chair and US Senator and others spoke words of kindness and appreciation. County Dispatch sent out the Last Call. Representatives from all over the State and beyond came to support us. When Tim’s body was returned to New York City to be interned in his home borough of Staten Island, the FDNY treated him as their own. The Fire Commissioner was there; the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums were there; the honor guards were there.
Never, never in my 30 years in EMS have I felt more honored, more appreciated. Thank you, brothers and sisters.
Cody and Tim,
I believe it was because of the force of your personalities, because of your caring and enthusiasm for this thankless work, because there were few that could know you and not like you, not love you, that we received the degree of support we did. You have brought us together; you have united us by your sacrifice; in blood you have formed a bond between us that might otherwise never have been forged. Thank you. You will not be forgotten.
All my love,
“3 ALERT TONES
ATTENTION ALL STATIONS and ALL PERSONELL.
EFFECTIVE February 20, 2013 INDIANAPOLIS EMS MEDIC 50, PARAMEDIC CODY MEDLEY and EMT TIM McCORMICK HAVE MADE THEIR FINAL CALL AND ARE NOW OUT OF SERVICE. THEY WILL BE MISSED BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN.”
Central Dispatch call to all units, 12 p.m., Feb. 20, 2013
Memorial t-shirts and hoodies—proceeds to Indianapolis Fire Rescue House: http://www.indyfrh.org/store/products/memorial-shirts-hoodies/
Indianapolis EMS: http://indianapolisems.org/
FDNY tribute on Staten Island: http://photos.silive.com/4499/gallery/staten_island_funeral_is_held_for_fallen_indianapolis_ems_private_timothy_c_mccormick/index.html
Memorial Program: http://indianapolisems.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/McCormickMedley-Program-Pgs.pdf