” He broke my neck in over 30 places, my back, my shoulder, both orbits, tore my ear partly off …” A medic’s account of assault

I am going to preface this  truly heartbreaking story of assault  with how I was made aware of it-

A couple years ago New Britain EMS Academy (NBEMSA) had brought me up for more classes. This time instead of it being just at their academy, they essentially put me on a small “tour” of Connecticut. NBEMSA would take me and the training equipment from location to location.

While on a break at one of the classes, a couple of the medics came up to me and showed me this image on their cellphone:

Amy_B_neck_xray

 

The story broke my heart. I wanted to know more, but I don’t like to pry. The interesting thing was I had NO record of this story, meaning I have MORE records of assaults on providers than anyone else on the planet…well at least that I am aware of. How is it a brutal attack such as the one below happened and I had never heard of it? Easy. No one talks about a dirty little secret. This only proves my point that there is a massive under-reporting of criminal assaults in medicine.
 Flash forward a couple of years. I am back in CT at NBEMSA teaching an instructor class. One of the providers in the class began to tell me a story of a former co-worker. I immediately recognized the story. I asked him to reach out to her and ask if she would share her story with me. The reason I ask for first person accounts is because even though I share statistics, surveys and studies showing violence in medicine is an epidemic, people only see a number. They do not usually equate the fact a REAL person, a provider just like themselves, is every single individual number, that makes up the mind boggling statistics. 

Several months passed since my request until one day I receive the email below. This is not meant to be a piece to pick apart sentence structure or paragraph formatting. It is to show the realistic side of what happens regarding this dirty little secret in medicine. These are the kinds of stories that make my car-jacking seem trivial in comparison. Stories like this should not only infuriate, but they should educate and then motivate. How many more will it take?

 

AMY to KIP:

Hello, my name is Amy, my former partner took your class and said he thought helping bring light to this growing epidemic would both help me and you. Scott Woods, a paramedic in Connecticut  took your course. He told you about the girl who lived. That’s me. 
I was working October 30th 2003, someone called 911 on the premise that they needed assistance for a broken ankle. The 911 call was building and his agenda was murder.
He almost succeeded, however he broke my neck in over 30 places, my back, my shoulder, both orbits, tore my ear partly off and cracked my skull. The damage was and wasn’t able to be surgically fixed, the story is much bigger than that, but it’s a quick summary.
My attacker wasn’t arrested or charged  with anything. I managed to spiral fracture his leg by death rolling him like a gator but in the middle of the street. There were a dozen witnesses {in scrubs, healthcare workers on a smoke break} who watched the entire 3 min 34 second right for my life while I begged them to call 911. My radio broke when I used it as a weapon. 
I suffer severe PTSD, though I don’t remember the incident, I see it in flashes. I have a constant headache that never goes away along with ringing in my ears and serious memory issues. As a result  I’ve had 3 strokes and I forget how many TIA’s. 
I’ve developed several conditions and syndromes due to this attack, like rheumatoid arthritis, spasm torticollis which is a kin to Tourette syndrome as a week-long eeg  showed and extremes in temperature or quick change in temperature  causes my entire body to contract. 
There’s so much MORE, but Scott thought by telling my story and helping others would help me. And he’s right.
My partner took the first hit and was unconscious under the ambulance, I thought he was dead. He also suffers neurological issues, but he couldn’t bring himself  to go out on the road again. I did, after 2+ years of therapy and surgeries. I only did it to prove to myself that I could and because  I needed the guys to see that-no worries, I’m good….
If I can help you in any way, I’d like to. 
I am very objective, I don’t hold any judgment, probably because I don’t remember it from my perspective. What I remember was mostly from about 10 feet away and at peace with the fact that I was dying. It’s crazy sounding, but that’s what allows me to tell my story without malice or judgment of any kind. It is what it is…..
So, that’s a quick summary of my experience, if I can be of any assistance to help you further education to use these vital tools that all EMS and fire NEED …. 
Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Amy M Bouchard
FF/ Medic, Hartford, CT. -Retired

 

KIP to AMY:

 

Hello Amy,

I want to thank you for sharing your story with me. I actually saw pictures of your x-rays when I was in CT a few years ago. Then someone mentioned it again this last time I was there.

Although I was already doing my DT4EMS as a hobby, it became a passion when my ambulance was car-jacked while I was in the back with a patient.

Like you, there was no support. No one talked about it… nobody seemed to care. They were just glad it wasn’t them. I then started travelling the country and talking to healthcare providers from all aspects of emergency medicine, many with stories (like yours) that made mine appear trivial.

 

That is when I got pissed. It is an epidemic. Violence is THE leading cause for injuries to staff and people want to ignore it. I refuse to go quietly into the night. I have heard too many stories. Many shared with my in confidence for fear of further ridicule. I have had my heart broken a thousand times from the personal stories. I have cried with more medics than should ever be allowed.

You are not alone. I promise you that. We heal together.

Would you allow me to share your story? If so, do you have any images you would like to include like your x-rays and any before and after ones?

 

Amy to Kip:

Yes, I’m definitely willing to dig up pics and x rays, mris , anything I can find…..
I’ve only recently discovered that I too am getting pissed and have ALWAYS read fb and offered anything I can. I love the code green campaign and as of late I decided to start a Bigger campaign. One family, one brotherhood. The streets are getting crazy and it’s hard to sit on the sidelines.
I want and need to help ANYONE I can.
I will dig up everything I’ve got including police statements and witness testimony. And I’ll dig deep and try to write the whole story….
What’s CRAZY is that I’m not your typical girl. I am strong and was taught how to fight by HPD (my father is retired hpd) so I know how to fight. I also had a baseball cap on.

It wasn’t until the last second when ,while kneeling on my shoulders in the middle of the street, he cracked my skull on the pavement, my hat came off and I’m told he couldn’t believe I was a girl…..
But, I’ll do my best to get you as much as I can and complete the whole incident. 
The only time I cried was when they finally released the witness statements and the PD folder– I cried, I was reading a story of a girl who went through hell, forgetting that the girl was me.
Thanks for your work. It’ IS an epidemic and it must be treated and people need to learn and not forget  the most essential tool they can carry. 
Knowledge is power. 
Thank you.
Amy

 

Kip to Amy:

 

Amy,

 

I hope he questions I posed didn’t turn you off. I am not trying to offend. I research as much as I can to find ways to not only mitigate future incidents but to raise awareness of the seriousness of the epidemic.

 

AMY to Kip

No, not at all. I really want what happened to me to not happen to anyone else AND I want it to make a difference. The TBI left me with sporty memories that is pieced together via witness statements. But, I’ve been wanting this to make a difference of be inspirational to someone….it is what it is, and I want my nightmare to make a positive difference in any way.
It’s very difficult to offend me:-)
No worries:-)

Kip to Amy:

Is it OK if I start to share your story?

 

Amy to Kip:

Sorry, I didn’t see this email before, but of course you may. It can only help:-) 
With all my injuries and subsequent disorders and conditions – I was dx w occipital neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia, I’m on day number 5 of what most people is a migraine, however I used to get migraines and those were a cakewalk compared to this.

After a few days it’s not the pain as much as it is maddening -psychologically. It’s TOTALLY debilitating and leaves me almost totally immobile due to the visual and audio and olfactory disturbances….also, a fx in c1,2 /and /or3 – one has an 86% chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis….bingo! I developed it right away and the fevers and overall absolute physical discomfort is also debilitating.
I say all this, not for sympathy or pity rather, to have others think long term. Sure, broken bones heal and everyone jokes about Dr SummerOff signing no-work papers, but with TBI and MANY other injuries TIME doesn’t heal- it just keeps revealing!
At some point we all feel invincible or we ‘take one for the team’ , but this type of mechanism of injury isn’t at all like a typical injury. When there is someone who is intentionally trying to hurt you-they don’t stop once you’re broken, therefore there is a huge potential for the injuries to be more complex in nature thus not healing in the traditional way.
My only saving grace is that I don’t have kids because this would be affecting them in ways I wouldn’t be able to see. If that makes sense. But, because of this assault I quickly realized that I couldn’t or wouldn’t survive a pregnancy…
Again, this is something I want people to think about. This assault CHANGED the direction of my life in a complete and total way. But, I’m ALIVE and have to adapt and overcome. I thank the heavens that I was a firefighter 3, the academy taught me essential skills to adapt to a situation and it’s that same training that is the cornerstone of my constant rehabilitation.
So, please, share away! If it helps one person -THAT would be worth it!:-)
Thanks, stay safe.
-AMY

 

This is Amy.
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Related: Eric’s Story
                   Lynn’s Story

 

So the next time you wonder why I am so passionate about this subject, think of Amy and remember this:

 

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