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Death of a lifesaver

EMT Marcus Jerome and his wife Rachel at his Boston EMS graduation in 2012 in Faneuil Hall.Photo courtesy of Boston EMS

Marcus Jerome walked into his house in Dorchester after work a couple of weeks ago, his eyes wide open.

His wife, Rachel, always stayed up late, waiting for him to regale her with his latest exploits on the night shift as an EMT for Boston Emergency Medical Service. But this night was different. Marcus looked different. He was smiling, almost in wonder, shaking his head.

"I saved a baby tonight," he said.

The expectant mother was driving to the hospital, but pulled over in front of the District 13 police station in Jamaica Plain when she felt the baby coming out. The baby wasn't breathing and had no pulse.


When Marcus Jerome looked at the newborn girl with a blue face, all he could think of was his 3-month-old daughter Jordyn.

"I couldn't let that baby die," he told his wife.

Rachel Jerome then watched as her husband walked to the crib and stared lovingly at their sleeping daughter.

Last week, Marcus Jerome was on a day off and drove his wife home after she had a procedure at Brigham and Women's. She needed a prescription filled, so he hopped on his motorcycle, headed for a nearby Walgreens.

Len Shubitowski and Mike Sullivan, the crew on Paramedic 3, got a call for an accident at Washington and Dunbar in Dorchester. When they got there, they found a 31-year-old man on the street, his motorcycle crumpled.

"He was breathing a second ago," an off-duty cop told them.

But he wasn't breathing now, and they couldn't find a pulse. There was something more. Sullivan noticed first. "Jeez," he said, startled. "I think that's Marcus."

Shubitowski studied the face and for the first time ever wanted his old friend Sully to be wrong.

Just then, Roger Hamlet and Peter Dinis pulled up in Ambulance 19.


Shubitowski knew that Roger Hamlet and Marcus Jerome were not only EMS academy classmates but good friends. "Roger," Len Shubitowski said, "is this Marcus?"

Hamlet wanted more than anything to say no, but when he looked over at the crumpled Kawasaki, he knew.

There wasn't a scratch on Marcus Jerome's helmet, but his body was broken. Between them, Shubitowski and Sullivan have almost 60 years on the streets, and they know a fatal injury when they see one. But theirs is a profession in which you never give up. So they loaded their injured comrade into the back of P-3 and tried to resuscitate him, as he had resuscitated that baby in Jamaica Plain a week before. Frank Sheeran, the District 2 supervisor, jumped in with them. Hamlet leaped into the front seat of the rig to drive his friend to Boston Medical Center.

It was, Shubitowski recalled, the quietest ride to the hospital he ever made.

"We did our jobs professionally," he said. "We did what we could."

They work miracles every day, these EMTs and paramedics, but there was no miracle for Marcus Jerome. He was pronounced dead not long after the rig skidded to a halt outside BMC.

Marcus Jerome hit the streets as an EMT a year ago. He was born for the job and loved it. Because he was new, he did a lot of fill-ins and worked nights, all over the city. Everybody in EMS knew Marcus. His 5-year-old son Jaiden still thinks he's coming home one day.


"You know," Jim Hooley, the EMS chief, was saying, "Mike Bosse, the night shift commander, said something about Marcus I'll always remember. He said Marcus learned on every call. He got better every day."

As she held her daughter and prepared to bury her husband, Rachel Jerome stood in her house and nodded at those words.

"I'm really sad," she said. "But he wasn't just my husband; he was my best friend, so I have so many memories."

And so she holds those memories tight, as she does Jordyn, a girl born on Father's Day, who one day will learn that her dad spent his nights saving lives.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.