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An egg exploded in her face. The ride to the hospital made her feel safe

Kathryn Fumie (in the middle with the yellow headband) in the summer of 2005.
Kathryn Fumie
Kathryn Fumie (in the middle with the yellow headband) in the summer of 2005.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team. It features stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

In the summer of 2005, Kathryn Fumie had finished her freshman year of college and was living in an apartment for the summer. She was learning how to cook for herself for the first time, and one day, she decided to cook a hard-boiled egg by putting it in a mug of water in the microwave.

She let the egg cook for a bit, then pulled the mug out and looked down at it. And that's when the egg exploded in her face, burning her skin and eyes.

It was a terrible injury, and the pain was excruciating. Luckily, a classmate was available to call her an ambulance. When it arrived, the EMT who cared for her during the 45-minute drive to the hospital helped to keep her calm.

"I was extremely uncomfortable. Everything burnt. Everything just was on fire," Fumie recalled. "I kept asking him if he could do something, if I could have a cold pack. And I was just begging for a cure."

The EMT calmly explained that he couldn't give her a cold pack – he said he wanted to save as much of her skin as possible, and that extreme cold could cause even more damage.

"So I had to just bear it until we got to the burn unit," Fumie said.

She said he talked her through what he was doing, to take her mind off the pain. They also chatted about her job as a hostess at a brewery. Most importantly, he made her feel like she was going to be OK.

"He had an amazing voice, and just was so calm. And he made sure that I got passed off to the right people at the hospital."

Fumie ended up staying in the burn unit for four and a half days. About two months later, she went back to work at the brewery.

"And one day, this guy walks up to the host stand, and he says, 'Do you remember me?' And I said, 'No, I'm sorry I don't,'" Fumie recalled.

"And he said, 'Well, why don't you close your eyes and I'll talk for a little while, and then maybe [you will] remember.'"

She closed her eyes. And then she realized who he was — he was the EMT from that ambulance ride, and he had remembered where she worked.

"He said, 'I just really wanted to come check on you.'"

They sat down and talked for a while. He told her about his family, and how long he'd been working as an EMT. She thanked him for his help, and for coming back to find her.

Today, nearly 20 years later, Fumie's skin and eyes have completely healed. She says still thinks about that EMT sometimes, and what she would say if she could speak to him again.

"I felt so alone. And you did make me feel like it was going be OK. And you made me feel so much less alone. And for that I am forever grateful."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laura Kwerel
[Copyright 2024 NPR]