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The Thanks that Go Two Ways

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Paramedic Chuck Daisy was asked how often an accident victim rescued after a crash returns to say thank you.

"I'd say one out of a hundred," the Manheim Township Ambulance responder said, standing Monday next to a Lititz teenager in the Municipal Drive ambulance headquarters.

"And this here is the one," said his co-worker, emergency medical technician Terry Root, pointing with a smile to 14-year-old Shaina Steffy.

Steffy, a Warwick High School freshman, wanted to personally visit the ambulance office Monday to say thanks to Daisy and Root, who responded to her crash scene, and to all the others who played a part in saving her life.

Along with her mother, Kelly Carroll, of 730 Keller Drive, Lititz, Steffy returned three months later to meet the ambulance crew members who responded to the Oct. 17 accident in which Steffy was critically injured.

Her former boyfriend was driving that Friday evening. They were going fast, and neither was wearing a seat belt, Steffy recalled.

Both Steffy and the driver were ejected from their car when it flipped.

Steffy, who was hospitalized for a month and suffered serious head trauma, makes use of a walker and is still undergoing regular physical, speech and occupational therapy. She speaks haltingly, but the message she brought to her rescuers was clear.

This isn't the first time she has said thanks.

A few weeks ago, she visited the Hershey Medical Center helicopter pilot who had flown her to Hershey from Lancaster General Hospital, where she was taken immediately after the accident.

Steffy is now catching up on the classes she missed at Warwick during her months-long absence from school and expects to finish her freshman year on schedule.

The vehicle's driver, who is a senior at Warwick, is doing OK, Steffy said.

Carroll, her relieved mother, said her daughter has "come a long way ... I just have so much faith and belief now, because it's just been wonderful."

To watch her daughter come from being critically injured "to where she is now ... it does something to you, definitely," says Carroll, who's on leave from her job at Moravian Manor to care for her daughter.

With emergency responders like Daisy and Root, who are both parents themselves, Carroll said, "When it's you that's involved, you need to come say thank you.

"Because if it wouldn't have been for them ..." she added with emotion in her voice.

Daisy, a veteran of years on the ambulance team, said, "When you are on the scene of an accident, you have to focus on what is actually going on.

"But in the back of your mind, you always have the thought, 'What if this was my child?'" said Daisy, who has a daughter a year older than Steffy.

The night of the accident, Steffy recalled, she and her then-boyfriend were on their way to rent a movie when the crash happened at about 5:40 p.m. at Millport and Buckwalter roads.

She doesn't remember much from the accident, which Daisy said is common in traumatic brain injuries: "It's a defense mechanism ... because these are events you don't want to remember."

The Manheim Township and Warwick ambulances arrived at the scene quickly.

All too often, such serious injuries as Steffy's can be fatal, the crew members said.

So to see Steffy walking in Monday "was amazing," another ambulance official said.

And to have her coming in to say thanks also is uncommon.

"Usually you'll get a letter back from a family member, saying thank you ... but hardly ever does anybody stop by the building personally to say anything to us," Daisy said.

Such a thank you is a tip of the cap not just to them, but to all other emergency responders, the Manheim Township crew members added.

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