Accident survivor reunites with Haliburton paramedics

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James Cook remembers the accident. 

The Bobcaygeon construction worker was working in a Haliburton home when a propane heater exploded right in front of him. 

After a lengthy hospital stay and life-altering skin grafts, Cook is on the road to recovery, and said he has a new appreciation for ambulance services. 

“I’m still healing from it,” Cook said of the incident. After he saw blue flames erupt from the heater he took a breath and ran outside to bury his burnt face in the snow. He called 911 using voice commands and Haliburton paramedics Jeff Schultz and Jim Miska were dispatched to the scene. 

He was flown to Sunnybrook hospital where he began his recovery. Cook said skin grafts taken from his legs means he overheats easily. He no longer has sweat glands on his face. His injuries mean he can’t do many of his former hobbies, as well as work. 

“I try and stay very positive,” he said. Cook said meeting the crew who responded to his call was “very emotional. It brought a lot of things into perspective. It really brought in the severity of my situation,” he said.

He added that “it brought into focus how important it is to have them around, and how well trained they are. the way they dealt with me, it was all very efficient.” 

The Haliburton County Paramedic services said it was grateful Cook chose to visit and share his story of recovery. “Paramedics respond to many calls throughout their careers and quite often some follow them into retirement wondering what happened after they left our care,” said the service in a letter sent to media. 

“We understand why the information isn’t available but appreciate former patients that take the time out of their busy lives to come and say thanks and share their story…it is truly priceless and how we continue to do the work that we do.”