Early Thursday morning July 11 a Mobile Life ambulance escorted by two Mobile Life fly cars anxiously departed the City of Kingston for a long awaited and hopefully expected transport from Albany Medical Center. On arrival the crew and family members marched through the Emergency Department, into the elevator and to the 8th floor with stretcher proudly in tow. The patient, impatiently and excitedly, waiting for his trip home. The Mobile Life crew and the patient’s family all crowded in the room and were greeted by the smiling face of Bill Spadafora who wondered, “What took you so long?”[caption id="attachment_384" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bill getting ready to leave Albany Med[/caption]
In the early morning hours of Saturday May 18 2013 a Mobile Life ambulance was involved in a severe motor vehicle collision with a pickup truck. Paramedic Bill Spadafora and EMT Gigi Williams were both seriously injured- Bill critically. He was extricated, cared for prehospitally, and airlifted to Albany Medical Center. Bill’s condition was critical on arrival and taken to emergency surgery. After extensive care his condition was finally upgraded and he was, thankfully stabilized. Bill was saved due to the great continuation of care from prehospital, emergency department, surgery, excellent trauma ICU care and finally into rehabilitation. All things Bill taught and impressed on many of us.
During his recovery at Albany Medical Center Bill’s extended emergency services family pulled together for him: to support, to encourage, and to visit to show he was in our prayers. Everyone knows how strong Bill is, how determined and how he’d never turn down a fight, and so “BillyStrong” was born. Throughout his stay his emergency services family became “BillyStrong” for him.
Bill was nothing short of “BillyStrong” while at Albany Medical Center. He surprised everyone, including his doctors on how well he was progressing. Then the big day came and they announced that he was going home.[caption id="attachment_385" align="alignright" width="224"] Emergency vehicles from all over Ulster County wait to welcome him home.[/caption]
All smiles, the crew and family packed up his belongings and helped him get comfortable on the stretcher. Before leaving Bill announced, “Let’s go home.” While leaving the unit and hospital there were tears of joy as Bill said goodbye to the staff that cared for him so well. He promised to return for a visit one day. He was able to visit the ICU where he said farewell to the nurses who stabilized him in the days following the accident. He barely remembered them due to his condition during his time there but they remembered him and wished him the best of luck.
Bill rolled through the Emergency Room, pushed the exit button and was taken to the ambulance where they would begin the journey home. Bill expected the ride to be uneventful and he would arrive at his home to be greeted by close friends and family. However, Bill forgot that his friends and family also included the entire emergency services community of the Hudson Valley.[caption id="attachment_386" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bill arriving home.[/caption]
As the ambulance approached the Kingston area the Mobile Life system- wide radio announced that Paramedic Bill Spadafora was entering the area. The ambulance slowed down as it neared his home where he was greeted by dozens of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars waiting to escort Bill the rest of the way home. All of his coworkers and friends were there to welcome him back in a sight that was nothing short of amazing. As the vehicles filed by his home he was at a loss for words. With his girlfriend and family by his side Bill entered his home for the first time in 54 days.
Although the road to recovery is not over, Bill is now at home. He will continue occupational therapy and working hard for himself and his family. As fantastic as his care was, as loving and caring as his girlfriend Gigi and family are, as wonderful as his recovery has been, it was Bill all along who has always been BillyStrong.
– Robert Szeli & Jean Laspisa
YouTube Video of Bills Homecoming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L74QsLeO4g