There’s a long list of people whom Julie Dombo has wanted to thank after she was shot during a robbery last August and had her arms and legs amputated.
But two of the most important were Amber Estrada and Sharde Hornberger, the two EMS workers who picked her up and rushed her to the hospital.
“I thought I was going to bleed out and die right there,” Dombo told Hornberger just before the ceremony Wednesday that honored Estrada and Hornberger with the first EMS award at Wesley Medical Center.
Instead Dombo was able to flex her newly bulging biceps in front of the crowd and hug two of the many heroes in her long journey to recovery.
Estrada and Hornberger made great time arriving at the AT&T store where she was shot on Aug. 11, picking Dombo up out of a pool of blood and taking her to the hospital, according to Gary Poindexter, Wesley’s EMS coordinator.
But it felt like forever to Dombo. “Please just get me there, get me there,” Dombo said she remembered thinking. “Every bump, every railroad crossing, every stoplight, I was just hurry, hurry.”
Hornberger said she told Estrada, who was driving, to push it and she did.
“Where are you hurting the most?” Hornberger said she asked Dombo in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
“My head is hurting,” Dombo said.
“I can’t breathe,” said Dombo, who had been shot in the lung. Dombo was losing blood and if her lung burst, she would die, Dombo said she was told later. But Hornberger knew that she had already been hooked up to oxygen and just told her to take deep breaths and stay calm.
Which she did. A hospital worker later told Dombo that she was the calmest patient they’d ever seen with injuries as serious as she had, so much so that at first the worker didn’t realize how precarious her situation was.
But they arrived.
“When these guys loaded me up and got me into ER, I thought I was safe,” Dombo said. “At that point there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I was going to live.”
The two EMS workers hugged Dombo and said they were happy to finally meet one of the many people they drop off and usually never hear from again.
Before the ceremony, Poindexter asked Dombo whether she would like to present the awards herself.
“I’d love it,” said Dombo, who stood up on her two prosthetic legs during the ceremony and handed each woman a plaque with the nubs of her arms. “I might start crying, but that’s OK.”