PARISHVILLE — Nicholas Jerome, a Parishville firefighter and EMT who nearly died in a crash while he was responding to a call recently, was picked up by his department and welcomed home from the hospital by a line of fire trucks across the county.
Edwin Cool, the Parishville fire chief, was on his way with his wife and another member of the department to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, on Wednesday to pick up their brother. He was on his way to pick up his assistant chief, and a row of first responders was waiting back home to greet him.
Mr. Jerome, 30, had been in the hospital for just over two weeks. He was in a crash that shattered his pelvis, fractured ribs, punctured a lung, broke his nose and inflicted deep lacerations.
It was about 4 p.m. on July 21 when the Parishville Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a scene where a person was having difficulty breathing. Mr. Jerome, an assistant chief and EMT who has been with the Parishville department for 12 years, was driving his truck to the fire station before heading out on the call.
On his way, his emergency lights activated, Mr. Jerome was approaching an intersection on Catherine Street when a vehicle began crossing. He swerved to avoid it and lost control, exiting the right side of the road and striking a telephone pole before crashing into a tree on the driver’s side. Witnesses later said there was a person mowing a lawn that he also avoided. Mr. Jerome was airlifted to the Syracuse hospital where he underwent three surgeries and lost five units of blood.
“Nicholas has come so far in just two short weeks,” his mother Ann Jerome said. “From day one he was a fighter. From doing his own self-assessment at the accident scene going through Potsdam hospital for a potential spleen injury.”
He broke all but two of his ribs. He was on a ventilator for two days. He began physical and speech therapy three hours daily. Noteworthy is the more-than 80 pounds he lost leading up to the crash, which doctors later told him all but saved his life.
“Spirits have remained high He has done everything that is asked of him and today the same rescue team that saved his life are going to bring him home,” she said. “It is without a doubt that he had many guardian angels watching over him and our family.”
Ms. Jerome is stunned at the support from across the community and country. Thousands of dollars were raised, gifts were donated and love was sent their way.
“Someone donated a lift chair, and a bed was purchased that is adjustable for his comfort,” she said. “We have heard from people as far away as Alaska wanting to know what they can do for us. We are so thankful and blessed that so many people have unselfishly offered to help him. Having a homecoming parade like this is a bit overwhelming for us because we are just simple people. We work hard, we try to keep to ourselves, and we don’t ask anything of anyone else. I have to remind myself that the department is doing this because he is one of a kind, and we are doing this because he is alive and will heal and will get back to what he loves doing most: running calls.”
Chief Cool took his time driving Mr. Jerome home. They put him on a stretcher so he could sit up or lay down. They stopped at Five Guys for a burger. He had to get that hospital food taste out of his mouth. Then they stopped in Gouverneur for ice cream. It took nearly five hours — that way it could be past 5 p.m. so more people could join the homecoming.
When Mr. Jerome got home, there were fire trucks from around the county lined along his street and up to his house. First responders waved to Tiny, a nickname he was given by Chief Cool after he joined the department at 18 years old.
“Our town is a close-knit town,” Chief Cool said. “It was a thing everybody wanted to do for him. The way Tiny is he really doesn’t like the spotlight, but he will appreciate it.”
But above all, for Mr. Jerome and his department, it’s time to get back to work.
“He’ll have a lot of PT,” Chief Cool said, “but we’re sure looking forward to the day we get him back to work.”
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