This past weekend the EMS community lost a special young man. One who will be missed by his friends, his family, his Brothers and Sisters, and by those who he took care of.
Jon Lindsay was only 21 years old. He worked for me on Saturdays. I didn’t know him well, and in hindsight I truly wish I’d gotten to know him better than I did. What little I did know was good, though. I liked him; he seemed to be a really nice kid, and I’ve discovered over a very short time that he truly was.
My first impression was of a quiet young man with a mischievous streak that he kept well concealed. He had a full head of hair and a pair of sideburns which made him look like a young Elvis Presley. His friends called him “Chops”, and I am not sure if it was because of the shock of hair on each side of his face or if it was due to his talent as a musician. From what everyone I’ve spoken with has told me, he had a way with a guitar. And just a week ago I was invited to a gig where his band was playing out in Worcester. My own schedule wouldn’t really allow it, but in retrospect I wish I’d taken the time to hear him and his band play.
I’ve since discovered that he has a wonderful family: a Mom and Dad who loved him and supported all that he did, and a sister who looked up to him. Incidentally, in photos that I’ve seen of him, he looks a lot like his Mom, and he’s built like his Dad. A handsome young man in a large, strong frame that betrays physical strength and belies a gentle side that I’m sure was evident when he was around his patients, his closest friends, and kids.
He was in Paramedic school. I had the opportunity to meet the people who were his classmates. Two of them are people I already work with, and the rest are folks I didn’t know but got the opportunity to meet this past Saturday. He was well-liked by them all as well as by the nurses in the Emergency Department of Burlington’s Lahey Clinic. He would do anything to help, and he was developing a fine set of skills and abilities that would take him into and throughout his career.
I had a conversation with his Dad on Saturday, and I learned some things that I would normally never have known but I found to be incredibly interesting. He had a welder’s license as well as his own set of welding tools. He started welding when he was a high school freshman, and he developed a list of customers that he did regular work for. He was, as his Dad put it, “tight.” By that, he meant that he was diligent at saving his money. He also saved other things, and it made me chuckle because I immediately formed the mental image of a pack rat. I could relate to this because I’m told I have the same habit.
He wanted to be a firefighter. To that end, he was a member of an Explorer unit sponsored by the Waltham Fire Department. Because he didn’t come from a family of firefighters or serve in the military, that made it difficult for him to secure a spot. So he found his way into our community – the EMS community – and became one of us.
He also had been planning, much to his Dad’s consternation, to ride cross country. And although there was concern on his Dad’s part – mostly about his safety, I suspect – he was ultimately okay with Jon going. But Jon didn’t get the chance.
This past Thursday night he was on his way to work when he had a mishap on his motorcycle. I don’t have much information as to what happened, but from what I was told he lost control of the bike and crashed into a guard rail. The accident happened on Route 128 in Lexington, near Exit 31, the junction of Routes 4 and 225. It is a wide, high-speed stretch of road that is in the middle of being worked on. It’s possible that this was a factor, but there really is no way to know if that is true or not.
He was wearing a helmet and protective clothing. From what I’m told, this was standard for him as he was always careful when he rode. And at the time I was told about the accident, nobody was really sure what exactly happened. The last I knew it was still being actively investigated.
He sustained massive injuries. He had shattered his left humerus and severed the brachial artery. This required a graft of one of the vessels of his right leg so that the artery could be repaired. More than that, however, was the insult suffered by his brain. He had swelling which resulted in herniation of his brain into the spinal column. His skull was opened to allow the swelling to occur and try to prevent herniation. It was unsuccessful. Multiple scans of his brain over the 48 hours following the accident showed no activity. While I was with his Dad, a mini-neurological exam was performed: his pupils were fixed and dilated.
I’m told that it was mid-to-late Saturday afternoon that he was declared brain dead. The decision was made to allow harvesting of his organs then, and he was to remain on life support for some time prior to beginning the process. His body could not withstand the wait, however, he died at approximately 2:00AM on Sunday, November 21.
One thing that I didn't mention, mainly because I forgot to (and I would like to thank the 2 people who reminded me of this), is that even in his death he was able to do much good. His organs were indeed harvested and will be donated to others who are in need. This, just by itself, will save lives.
I am reminded of what Jesus said to his apostles in John's gospel: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for his friends."
He will be missed by many, including me. And although I didn't know him well, I would like to honor his memory. The photo below is one that I think is appropriate, all things considered. He is with Mike McCarthy, one of his best friends, and he is being pushed around in a very small shopping cart. When I first saw this picture, I couldn’t help but laugh. Because knowing Mike as I do – he is not only a co-worker but also a friend - I thought this would be appropriate.
Jonathan Lindsay, EMT-B
March 28, 1989 – November 21, 2010
I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God will not allow your foot to slip; your guardian does not sleep. Truly, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun cannot harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever. --Psalm 121 (NAB), From Officium Pro Defunctis