Friendships come in many forms and often have unique beginnings. But there are few with a start quite like the friendship between Troy Pauls and Glen Recknell.
Recknell, a STARS Very Important Patient and Pauls, a flight paramedic, met under tragic circumstances following a near-fatal incident. Despite those tough beginnings, the two men have forged a lifelong bond.
One summer, Recknell was enjoying his grandson’s birthday at a lake when he decided to take a ride on a jet ski. After travelling roughly five kilometres away from the family campsite, he crashed into a sandbar. The momentum tossed him in the air and the hard landing left Recknell with a severe injury to his spinal cord.
“I woke up with water splashing over my face and I couldn’t feel anything below my neck,” he said. “I knew immediately I was paralyzed.”
Fortunately, a family member happened to be following behind. He quickly arrived at the scene and positioned a lifejacket under Recknell’s head to keep the water from covering his face and then went for help. A short time later, firefighters and paramedics arrived and transported Recknell to shore.
“That’s when I saw the beautiful red STARS helicopter and their air medical crew waiting for me. It’s a sight I will never forget. I thought then that maybe I would live: STARS is here.”
Recknell was transported to a trauma centre from lake in 45 minutes, a trip which would take well over three hours by ground.
One week later, Pauls was back at the same hospital for another mission when he ran into a member of Recknell’s family and was updated on his status.
“Troy came to visit me in the ICU, and that was the start of friendship that means so much to my wife Dawn and I,” said Recknell.
The two men have had several opportunities to get together over the years, but one moment that stands out for Pauls was Recknell’s VIP visit to the base.
“I knew Glen would survive his injury, but I was very concerned that he might be confined to a wheelchair and possibly be on a ventilator, depending on the severity of his injury,” Pauls said. “I was completely stunned when he came to the base and was able to stand up after months of incredible physiotherapy and hard work.”
“His attitude remains positive despite his circumstances, and Dawn – who has been by his side since high school – continues to be a devoted partner. They are truly inspiring people,” said Pauls. “It’s unfortunate that we had to meet under such circumstances, but I am grateful for their friendship, because they exemplify living life to the fullest with an amazing attitude.”
The years since his accident have presented many challenges for Recknell, as he battles through complications from his injury. But he continues to treasure his friendship with Pauls and remains thankful STARS was available that day.
“I know in my heart if it wasn’t for STARS I wouldn’t be here today,” said Recknell. “Before my accident we didn’t know much about STARS. Now we understand just how vital they are to all of us. They need us, and we need them.”