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More than Meals, and then some - driver saves participant's life accent

March 1, 2023 | By

MOW new signWhen driver Pam Reeves set out on her Meals on Wheels route on an unremarkable weekday morning, she had no idea she’d end up contributing to measures that saved the life of a participant.

Pam arrived at Harvey’s home on Des Moines’ east side toward the beginning of her route, as usual. When she knocked on the door, Harvey responded with a cheerful, “Yeah!” — his typical invitation to come in. 

But on this day, he added something new: “Be careful.”

“I opened the door and peeked around it, and there he was, lying on the floor just inside the door,” Pam recalled. “I said, ‘Well, what in the world are you doing?’ and he responded, ‘I don’t really know.’”

Pam, who once worked on an ambulance crew, quickly assessed the situation: Harvey was on his back with a huge knot on his forehead and lacerations on his arm. He was cold and confused and seemed to be suffering from a concussion. 

He tried to move, even though Pam advised him not to, and called out in pain. 

“He tried to tell me he didn't need help, but I called the ambulance and Harvey’s son, and when the first responders came, they wrapped his arm and started asking him some questions,” Pam said. “He was confused while they were working on him, and they stabilized him and took him to the hospital.” 

Harvey’s son, Shawn, phoned Pam later to thank her and to update her on Harvey’s condition. In addition to his head injury, Harvey, 80, had suffered two broken ribs and numerous lacerations. 

Doctors said if Pam had not discovered him when she did, his condition could have deteriorated rapidly. 

“It was such a blessing that she came; my dad lives alone and was trying to get something in the kitchen and had fallen into his walker, then landed on the floor,” Shawn says. “I wouldn’t have gotten there till later on that day, and who knows what shape he would have been in. 

“I’ll always be grateful that the driver heard him and helped him.” 

Shawn says after the accident, his dad began receiving other services from WesleyLife, including in-home services to help with cleaning, organizing, and medication management. 

"He loves the team — he refers to them as his friends and looks forward to them coming, and I sure worry less," Shawn says. 

For her part, driver Pam denies she did anything out of the ordinary — “It’s what anyone would have done, but I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” she says. 

“I love what I do; it’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” Pam says. “Of course it’s rewarding to help someone who’s in trouble, like Harvey was, but it’s rewarding on a normal day, too. My clients wait for me; for some of them, having me bring their lunch is by far the brightest part of the day. 

“This is not the first time I’ve had to call the ambulance, and that’s sad, but it’s a great reminder that we’re needed. For these people who live alone, especially, we’re a lifeline.”



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