NY FF-EMT vows to return to duty after near-fatal crash

Parishville Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief and EMT Nicholas Jerome, 30, is recovering after being seriously injured in an on-duty crash Tuesday


Ben Muir
Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.

PARISHVILLE, N.Y. — Ann Jerome got to see her son for a brief moment before he was flown to Syracuse with injuries critical enough to make his survival expectancy unclear. She was able to touch his hand, then hear him say he was sorry.

It was around 4 p.m. on Tuesday when the Parishville Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a scene where a person was having difficulty breathing. Nicholas D. Jerome, a 30-year-old assistant chief and EMT who has been with the Parishville department for 12 years, was driving his truck to the fire station before heading out on the call.

On his way, his emergency lights activated, Mr. Jerome was approaching an intersection on Catherine Street when a vehicle began crossing. He swerved to avoid the vehicle and lost control, exiting the right side of the road and striking a telephone pole before crashing into a tree on the driver’s side. Witnesses later said there was a person mowing a lawn that he also avoided. Mr. Jerome would later say he never lost consciousness.

“I was just trying to get away from the car so I wouldn’t hurt them,” he said. “I remember hitting something and then waking up in the truck.”

Mr. Jerome was now in the passenger side of his truck and a tree had cut the vehicle into three pieces. He couldn’t get out, so he began doing a self-assessment. He could move his arms and legs, but he did have a shattered pelvis, fractured ribs, punctured lung, broken nose and deep lacerations. The accident report is still not available as the crash is still under investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The ambulance crew he usually works with drove on the crash scene while they were on their way to the original call. They got him out of the truck and transported him to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, where he had surgery to control the bleeding in his stomach. His mother knew that there was a serious possibility that he wouldn’t make it.

“I couldn’t give up,” Mr. Jerome later said from a hospital bed. “This is what I do. I’ll get better so I can help people again.”

Ms. Jerome and family members had congregated in the hospital parking lot since COVID-19 has limited visitation. They waited for a few hours before she was allowed to see him for a moment before he was flown to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. At that point, Mr. Jerome, a third-generation first responder who filed paperwork to be on the fire department when he was 17 years old, who’s also a assistant teacher at the county head start program, began feeling like getting in a crash countering what he has always strived for, to help people. That’s why he told his mother he was sorry before getting airlifted to Syracuse.

“We just told him you never have to say sorry for anything,” Ms. Jerome said.

Mr. Jerome was flown to the Syracuse hospital, where he had two more surgeries. Doctors later told him that he wouldn’t had survived if he hadn’t lost the 81 pounds he did over the last few months.

“Being healthier,” Ms. Jerome said, “and stronger now compared to 10 months ago helped him on his road to recovery.”

Mr. Jerome isn’t sure when he will get out of the hospital, but in the meantime, the community at home has stepped up and raised thousands of dollars for him. And, for the Jerome family this isn’t the first time people have rallied around them. When Ms. Jerome’s daughter, Allison, had an aneurysm-like attack and nearly didn’t survive.

“Eleven years ago our daughter was fighting for her life, and everybody pulled together then and she made a complete recovery,” Ms. Jerome said. “And once again, everybody is going above and beyond for our family, and it totally amazes me how supportive everybody is.”

GoFundMe fund-raiser was created for Mr. Jerome on Wednesday and has raised over $4,270.

“People in the community are doing what they can,” Ms. Jerome said. “We’re so very thankful and we’re so blessed. This is what his life is, running rescue calls and working with children. He can’t wait to do it again.”

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©2020 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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