Largo, Florida -- It's EMS Week, and what better way to honor the team of Sunstar paramedics, Bayflite pilots, and Pinellas County 911 dispatchers who helped Ireland Nugent, than to let them meet the little girl whose life they helped save?
"Her life means more to us than anything," Ireland's mother, Nicole, told first responders as they met the family on Wednesday. "She crawls around and plays and laughs and giggles like nothing ever happened."
And for that, the Nugents credit the crew of first responders who they call heroes. Ireland's sister even drew a picture on a white board that read, "I <3 Paramedics." Inside the heart, she wrote the names of all the paramedics who helped Ireland.
Wednesday's meeting was the first time since the accident that those responders got to see the family in person. It also brought back painful memories of the night that they found out about the lawnmower accident and helped rescue a two-year-old girl.
"I personally remember hearing the father screaming in the background, which made tears well up in my eyes because I could only imagine how he felt," says Christopher Jennings, assistant supervisor with Sunstar Paramedics.
Jennings also recalls the moments in which he and colleagues talked to Ireland.
"Even though she was so little, she nodded as if she understood us," he remembers. "It felt like she trusted us."
Alexis Frymoyer is the Telecommunicator who took the 911 call that night.
"It's one of those few traumatic events that you don't ever expect. You still don't understand how it really happened, even now," she says. "Sometimes, I don't know if it's worse to be out in the field and see it, or be behind the phone and imagine it."
Frymoyer explains that sometimes the imagination can make things seem worse, but in this case, she says she's just glad the outcome is positive.
Ireland seemed happy to meet the crews on Wednesday, murmuring, "Thank you," and letting everyone sign the cast on her arm. But when pilots led the toddler to the helicopter that rushed her to the hospital, she grew scared and didn't want to sit inside of it.
"She's pretty smart," her dad, Jerry, said. "She remembers."
But her family and emergency responders were quick to comfort her, just as they were the night of the accident.
"Guess what?" Nicole told Ireland. "You're all better now."