Jen Klein thanks Central Saanich firefighters for helping her after a crash on Highway 17 in July 2019. (Photo contributed by Jen Klein)

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

A North Saanich woman is thankful for her life, and for the work of first responders after a terrifying incident on the Pat Bay Highway.

Jen Klein was driving down Highway 17 around noon on July 26, 2019, when she started to feel light headed.

“I remember feeling really dehydrated but I didn’t have a water bottle. I thought ‘oh my gosh, something is happening,’ and I realized I was going to faint,” Klein recalled.

Klein put her signal on and moved into the right lane, and tried to hold on until she reached the shoulder, but everything went black. Her vehicle went off the road, rolled, and fell 30 feet down a deep ditch.

“When I woke up, I was disoriented and upside down. I started to panic and honk the horn but a witness was already there telling me help was on the way,” said Klein.

A Central Saanich police officer quickly arrived on scene and comforted her. A few minutes after that, about five firefighters arrived and began trying to extricate her from the vehicle.

“I couldn’t stop asking if anyone else was hurt,” said Klein. “The first responders were all reassuring me that I was the only one involved in the accident, and that helped me relax a little bit.”

The firefighters got Klein out of the vehicle through the sunroof and on to a stretcher – not an easy task considering the terrain. Klein recalls the kindness all of the first responders showed to her, and how comfortable and safe they made her feel throughout the process.

“It felt like a miracle that all these people were taking care of me,” said Klein.

Klein was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and released the same day with minor injuries. She noted that the paramedic in the ambulance with her was also very compassionate, as were hospital staff.

“When I was discharged, I felt a bit bruised and battered but nothing was major,” said Klein. “I looked in my handbag, and I realized all these items had been stuffed in to my bag from my car. The police and firefighters had scanned my vehicle and put everything in there they thought I might need. They even packed my sandals so I didn’t have to leave the hospital without shoes.”

After recovering, Klein reflected on the experience and set out on a mission of gratitude. She started at the police station, thanking the officer who first arrived on scene.

Next, she thanked the firefighters, and then tracked down the paramedic who rode with her to the hospital. Klein also met with the witness of the crash and thanked him for calling for help, and for making sure she was OK.

“Everyone was very humbled and shocked that I would make the effort to thank them. I think they believe their job doesn’t need to be appreciated because it’s their job. But they showed up with so much empathy, and kindness, and they didn’t have to go pick up my personals but they did it anyways.”

The experience gave Klein a new perspective on life, and she is thankful first responders turned what could have been a traumatic event, into a loving experience.

“I wanted them to realize how much light they shared with me that day. I learned the feeling of true, authentic gratitude, and living from that space makes you see the miracles in the little things. I now live fully, and unafraid, because every day I am alive is icing on the cake.”

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