EMS trained peer counselors to create crisis-support phone line

Carolyn Edwards 2By EMS1 Staff

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HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut foundation is raising support to launch a statewide confidential and anonymous Peer Support phone line for EMS providers by the end of 2015.

The Carolyn Edwards Foundation, a Connecticut based nonprofit, was formed after Carolyn Edwards, a Manchester EMT, was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2014. The initial mission of the foundation was to support Edwards, her children, and her recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

During the weeks that followed Edward’s injury and the killing of EMT Donavan Alden, at about the same time by a drunk driver, it became evident to the foundation that the EMS community in the state lacked a support structure for stress release and relief. The foundation is undertaking the effort to create a peer support line, from EMS providers, for EMS providers, to provide the support and resources an at-risk EMS provider may need during a time of crisis.

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Injured Manchester EMT Focus Of Fundraising

Carolyn Edwards 2

Carolyn Edwards in a photo taken last fall. She is holding Britton, a family friend’s daughter. (Doug Edwards / May 22, 2014)

HARTFORD COURANT

by Jesse Leavenworth

MANCHESTER — Friends, coworkers and teammates are rallying in support of Carolyn Edwards, a beloved emergency medical technician who was badly hurt in a recent motorcycle accident.

“The reason everybody descended on this is that she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Ambulance Service of Manchester spokesman Dave Skoczulek said Thursday. “I’ve never heard her say a negative thing. She’s one of those people who’s always laughing, positive, upbeat. When this happened, it made a mess out of everybody and they came together as fast as they could.”

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Edwards, 36, of Manchester, was driving her motorcycle on East Center Street on the morning of May 6 when she collided with a car at the Vernon Street intersection, police have said. She was treated for head and arm injuries in the intensive care unit at Hartford Hospital, but was recently transferred to a rehabilitation facility.

Along with ASM, other organizations raising money to support Edwards’ family and help pay her medical bills include sports teams she belongs to, including the Hartford Wild Roses Women’s Rugby Team. The team is selling t-shirts with “#Carolynstrong” printed on the back. To purchase a t-shirt or a #carolynstrong bracelet, visit http://www.carolynstrong.org.

ASM employees also have been raising money through “cold water challenges,” which involve immersion in swimming pools and other chilly bodies of water. The company’s president and CEO, Wayne Wright, recently took part in one such challenge (see the video at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carolynstrong/1447016028872363).

Edwards, who was born in New York City, moved with her family to Manchester as a young girl and graduated from Manchester High School, ASM paramedic Kenya Russell said. Edwards, who is single and has no children, has been working for ASM for about five years. Russell said the two were frequent partners.

“She is consistently kind all the time, no matter what the scenario is,” Russell said. “We have stressful scenarios, but she’s always smiling.”

“She was like that as a little kid,” Edwards’ uncle, Doug Edwards, said.

Little by little, Edwards said, his niece’s condition is improving. Her great physical shape before the accident and the many friends she has made are helping, he said..

“Between her physical stamina and her relationships with people, I think that’s really the thing that makes her recovery go well,” Edwards said.

When Carolyn Edwards regains her health, friends plan to convert the fundraising organization they started after the accident into a standing foundation to benefit all emergency medical service workers in the state who face similar crises, Russell said.

#CarolynStrong Bracelets Now Available

CarolynStrongMANCHESTER — Show your support for Carolyn Edwards and her recovery.

#CarolynStrong bracelets are now available for a minimum donation of $3.00.

Please see the following ASM employees to purchase one, or three or five or a few dozen:

Stacy Debarge
Lauren Mazzoni
Ryan McConville
Heather Carl
Tim Allbee
Jocelyn Heim (MMH ER)
Genny Geres

Click on the following site for more information on how to donate to support her recovery, buy t-shirts, get updates and otherwise show your support: www.carolynstrong.org.

Supporting Carolyn Edwards in Her Recovery

360_carolyn_1MANCHESTER — On May 6, 2014 ASM EMT Carolyn Edwards was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Carolyn is a much loved and cherished member of the ASM team and support for her recovery has been overwhelming, touching and flowing from all directions.

In order to respect Carolyn and her family’s privacy during her recovery and to provide a source of information and support, members of the ASM family and Carolyn’s friends have constructed www.carolynstrong.org.

According to the site, “As a collaboration of friends and co-workers of Carolyn Edwards, we will combine and coordinate efforts for the common cause of benefiting Carolyn and her family in their time of need. We will support their emotional, physical, and financial needs to assist in restoring Carolyn in her optimal health. #Carolynstrong”

To further respect Carolyn’s privacy, the ASM-Aetna blog will not be chronicling her recovery but will continue to provide updates on ways to support her and her family including fundraisers and more.