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Hall paramedic awarded for caring for family involved in fatal December wreck
Teen died in wreck, while his mother and siblings were badly injured
Hall County Fire Services EMT Robert Norton nominated his partner Elizabeth Taylor for the EMT of the Year award from the Region 2 EMS Directors Association, which she won. The EMT of the Year award is presented to a licensed EMT-B, EMT-I, AEMT, CT or paramedic who exemplifies outstanding professionalism in EMS. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The last thing Elizabeth Alvarez-Perez remembers before the fatal crash is leaving the church service and heading home.

Alvarez-Perez, of Gainesville, was told it would be six months to a year before she got out of the hospital after a Dec. 6 wreck on Thompson Bridge Road near Price Road.

For the two paramedics taking her to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, they knew their care for the Alvarez-Perez family was just beginning.

“When we found out that our patient as well as her family were still going to be in the ICU through Christmas, we hated that for them,” Hall County Fire Services firefighter/EMT Elizabeth Taylor said. “We wanted to ensure that they weren’t alone on Christmas.”

Recognizing “outstanding professionalism” that goes “far and above the call of duty,” Taylor received the EMT of the Year for Region 2 last month.

“Hall County Fire Services is blessed to have some of the most dedicated personnel in the state providing care for our citizens and visitors,” Fire Chief Jeff Hood said in a statement. “Paramedic Taylor’s actions during and following this incident exemplify our core values of commitment, integrity, honor, and courage. We are very proud of her recognition tonight.”

Taylor and paramedic Robert Norton had already taken roughly nine calls the night of the wreck and were already at Northeast Georgia Medical Center when the call came over the radio.

At the scene, the road was covered in debris, as one car was still on its side.

“I ended up tripping up over the driveshaft of the vehicle,” Norton said.

Georgia State Patrol said Jesus Alvarez-Perez, 19, died the following morning at the hospital after Elizabeth Alvarez-Perez and her two other children were transported in critical condition.

Norton and Taylor planned to visit the family at the hospital Christmas Day, only to find the family — Elizabeth, Stephanie, 16, and Matthew, 14 — had all been discharged days earlier.

“Being the stubborn people that we are, we still wanted to see them and just let them know that we cared about them and that our patient care didn’t stop at that point,” Taylor said.

Taylor found the “world kept getting smaller,” as the Alvarez-Perez family attended the same church, St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Dahlonega.

“My heart was just pounding with joy, because I was able to meet these two wonderful people that did everything ... to help my daughter,” Elizabeth Alvarez-Perez said.

The family is still recuperating, as Elizabeth Alvarez-Perez still attends physical therapy for a weakened right foot and right hand.

Stephanie has returned to work and will be back at Gainesville High School in the fall for her senior year.

“She said she wanted to go back to her work to help her mom and take over what Jesus would always do for us, because Jesus was always helping,” her mother said.

Taylor’s philosophy on care went back to her instructor at North Georgia Technical College, who said the job will make you “treat each patient like they are family.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to make that stretch, but other times it’s very easy,” she said.

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