Ambulance Hit by Drunk Driver, EMT Left Fighting for Life. 18 Months Later, Returns to Work


My little sister has been an EMT for years. Earlier this month, my little brother graduated from the fire academy in Southern California.

When your family members are first responders, part of you has to forget the reality of danger they face daily. While I’m exceedingly proud of them, I can’t help but worry sometimes.

The reality is that each time a first responder punches in for their shift, they are putting their lives on the line. They expect, however, to rescue people from harrowing scenes, not to become part of them.

On Aug. 7, 2016, Tim Hoffman, a 31-year-old experienced on-scene emergency EMT clocked in for an early shift in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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He was in the back, unbuckled when a drunk driver hit the ambulance head-on.

The attending medical team informed Hoffman’s wife that he’d sustained a traumatic brain injury requiring immediate, yet dangerous, surgery.

He survived surgery but remained in the ICU until Aug. 31, as he needed additional surgeries to reconstruct his skull.

A survivor to be sure, the road to recovery would be a long one. Hoffman would have to relearn basic skills, including walking and talking.

Hoffman and his family have leaned heavily on their faith over the last 18 months as they’ve braved his recovery together.

After years of training and experience doing something he loved, no one knew what the future would ultimately look like for Hoffman.

To my absolute shock, Hoffman returned back to his job with AMR (the ambulance company he worked for), Jan. 29, 2017! Certainly the fruits of hard work, determination, and faith are blossoming.

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He’s limited to light duty and part time while he goes through the company’s evaluation of what he will be able to do.

The family is very appreciative for the support his company has continued to show throughout this tragedy.

There’s something special in the character of those that are called to be emergency respondents. After going through such an ordeal on the job, I don’t think I’d be looking to return.

At the same time, returning can be a powerful motivator. It’s a way of saying what happened isn’t going to break the spirit.

I hope every day that regardless of the horrific things my siblings may see, they are never in imminent danger. Were they to be hurt, I also see them being focused on making a return.

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