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Jessica Van Der Merwe

Jessica Van Der Merwe


Falck Rocky Mountain
Aurora, CO

During a recent family vacation, Paramedic Jessica Van Der Merwe was exploring the streets of the Bahamas on a moped. As she rode, she witnessed a vehicle crash at a high rate of speed; it subsequently rolled and caught on fire. Noticing that the flaming vehicle was leaking fuel and poised to explode, Jessica swiftly alerted nearby people to move away, hoping to prevent further injuries. Moments later, the vehicle exploded.

Inside the sedan were a father, mother, and teenage girl. Without the immediate and brave actions of Jessica and other volunteers, the family would have perished. These rescuers managed to extricate the family through the missing back window, immobilize them using makeshift materials such as a piece of wood and a door (in lieu of a backboard), and provide triage and treatment until the ambulances arrived.

When the ambulances reached the scene, the injured were lifted over a retaining wall to facilitate their transport. Recognizing the severity of the teenage girl’s injuries, Jessica aided the ambulance crew in loading her. She then addressed the girl’s compromised airway, which was due to a fractured jaw, prioritizing her immediate transport to a suitable hospital. Throughout this, Jessica also had to manage the scene, informing bystanders that some of her necessary medical interventions might be distressing to watch. Furthermore, she dealt with the intoxicated driver of the crashed vehicle, who became a hindrance to his family’s care.

After a seemingly endless wait, a third ambulance arrived to transport all the family members to the hospital. With the family safely on their way, Jessica and her own family resumed their moped journey. Now in the dark and facing the added challenges of no headlights and being chased by local dogs who weren’t thrilled to see them out at night, they were fortunate to be escorted safely home by compassionate locals. There, they could finally reflect on the day’s dramatic events and get some much-needed rest.