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A story of care and compassion

Family nominates VDMC paramedic for award after she cared for 14-year-old injured in a car accident

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Anne Blankenship Marne Markwardt, left, and her son Carter, pose with CARES Award recipient Paramedic Specialist Andi Dyer. Dyer was nominated for the award by Marne Markwardt for the care Dyer provided Carter following a January car accident.

There were tears and cheers Wednesday morning as members of the Van Diest Medical Center staff and administration gathered for the presentation of the monthly CARES Award.

The CARES Award is an employee recognition program at the hospital.

“It’s aimed at capturing those incredible moments in which our staff demonstrate the core values to one another, our patients and to our families,” said Lisa Ridge, Chief Executive Officer of VDMC.

But this month’s presentation was a special one as the family of accident victim transported to VDMC in January, returned for the presentation.

Marne Markwardt and son Carter traveled from Clear Lake to be part of the celebration Wednesday. Markwardt nominated Paramedic Specialist Andi Dyer for the award after witnessing the care Dyer gave to Carter following the accident.

Andi Dyer smiles at the CARES Award presentation held Wednesday morning at Van Diest Medical Center.

Marne Markwardt shared the emotional story during the award presentation. On Jan. 20, she received that phone call that every parent dreads — your child has been injured in a car accident.

“My ex-husband called to tell me Carter had been in an accident and had received injuries to his head and face,” she said. The 14-year-old boy and his father were headed to Des Moines when a car, traveling too fast for the road conditions, spun out in front of them and collided. Carter who was in the back seat, broke his nose, his maxilla and lost some teeth. In addition, he had a concussion.

“It was on that day that my son was transported to Van Diest Medical Center. It was also where our story begins with Andi.”

Markwardt was at home in Clear Lake, still in her pajamas, when the call came in. Her father drove her to Webster City meet Carter at the hospital.

“It was the longest, most painful drive I’ve ever experienced,” she said.

Marne Markwardt of Clear Lake hugs Paramedic Specialist Andi Dyer following the CARES Award ceremony held Wednesday at Van Diest Medical Center, Markwardt nominated Dyer for the award after Dyer cared for her son following a car accident.

She praised the hospital staff who greeted her when she arrived and made sure she was immediately taken to see her son.

“They were helpful, courteous and understanding of the frantic mother who had entered their center,” she said. “I have a new appreciation of the importance of teamwork after watching the staff in action.”

Markwardt said in the eye of that storm, one team member stood out from the rest. She told Dyer she was grateful for her care.

“My words will never come close to doing justice to describing the impact she had on us,” she said. “As a mother of a child who was in a car accident on the interstate at a high rate of speed, what could I possibly have wished for on this particular day?”

Markwardt said she hoped the people who cared for her child would treat him as if he were their own. She said she wished for them to not only work to heal his body, but to consider the impact of the trauma on his emotional state of mind.

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Marne Markwardt snaps a photo of Andi Dyer with Markwardt’s son Carter. The Markwardts nominated Dyer for the CARES Award which was presented to the paramedic Wednesday morning.

She said she watched Dyer talk with Carter and stroke his hair, all while assuring him that everything would be alright. She said Dyer never left his side during the ambulance ride when he was transported on to a Des Moines hospital.

“I watched her step into the role of caring for my little boy, as a mom does,” Markwardt told those gathered at the presentation.

“For my child and myself, you have forever made an impact,” she told Dyer. “On the absolute worst day of my life, you brought me more comfort than you will ever know. I will forever be grateful for the compassion you showed my family.

“It’s truly a privilege to be here to celebrate you,” Markwardt said, wiping away the tears.

“There’s no crying in EMS,” Dyer joked as she hugged Marne Markwardt and then Carter.

Dyer was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a plaque and certificate from her VDMC colleagues and the Markwardt family gave her a framed poster.

Dyer has worked at VDMC since 2002.

Lori Foster, senior director of marketing and public relations, said the CARES Award presentations are designed as a surprise to the recipient. Nominations come from a variety of sources.

“The award nominations can come from employees, patients, patient family members and are really impactful and moving when they come from patients and family members,” Foster said. “A lot of times the employee doesn’t even know they’ve made such a difference in someone’s life.”

Foster said that upon receiving the award, employees often say they were “just doing their job.”

“But it goes much beyond on that,” she said.

“You have touched many lives in your career as a paramedic, and undoubtedly you will be here for many others,” Ridge told Dyer. “We’re blessed to have you as a caregiver at Van Diest Medical Center.”

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