ALDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every year hundreds of men and women who lost their lives serving their community are honored at the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Ceremony. Those brave people were remembered this past weekend. Among them was one of Western New York’s bravest, who died from COVID-19.
The pandemic took the lives of some of the best, brightest, and bravest. Beckie Elezcko is a perfect example.
Beckie served as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Millgrove Volunteer Fire Department for almost four years. It was her life-long dream.
“From the time she was old enough to walk, talk, and chew gum, she always said, ‘I want to move out there and become a member,'” said Beckie’s father, Bob Elezcko. “It was a proud day when she did.”
Beckie followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, father, uncle, and brother.
The 32-year-old spent her life healing others — so it was a shock when her family found out she was the one needing help.
“Her boyfriend called on Sunday morning and said ‘something’s wrong with Beckie, you better get down here,” said Bob.
Beckie, who was typically healthy, seemed to be having a stroke.
Her family of EMS responders knew she had to go to the hospital immediately. While Beckie couldn’t speak to her family, they knew she could feel their presence.
“She kept nodding her head against my chest, she laid her head on my chest,” said Beckie’s brother Brandon Kozlowski- Elezcko. “I knew, that she knew, that it was me.”
Early COVID-19 pandemic restrictions kept the family outside the hospital doors. When Beckie arrived, she was quickly diagnosed with COVID Pneumonia.
“Which was a shock to us because she had no symptoms,” said Bob.
Doctors told the Elezcko family that Beckie had started producing blood clots at a very fast pace, causing her to have multiple strokes.
18 hours later, Beckie died.
“The doctors said she had so many more strokes, if by some grace of God, she pulls through this, your daughter will never be coming home,” said Bob. “She will be living the rest of her life on machines.”
Word of her tragic passing and her family’s grief spread all through the community, New York State, and then to Virginia.
Bob received a call informing him that Beckie’s name would be engraved on the National EMS Memorial called the “Tree of Life.” A ceremony to honor her, and other first responders, would be held in Arlington.
“It was deemed that if you are a firefighter, police officer, or EMS worker, and you pass away from COVID-19, it is assumed that you got it in the line of duty,” said Bob.
Fire departments from all around New York came together to show their support and see the family off as they left for the trip.
Along with a caravan of loved ones, the Red Knights Firefighter Motorcycle Club escorted them for the 7-hour drive to Arlington. Beckie’s family is touched by the gesture.
“They always say the only change is the name above your building, and the fire service is very, very close,” said Bob. “I learned first-hand after Beckie passed truly what that means.”
Beckie’s name will forever be etched on bronze leaves alongside her fellow brothers and sisters. A permanent memorial will be built in the future.
This doesn’t take away from the pain, but it does provide a little comfort, as her family continues to serve.
“Beckie is watching over each and every one of us, and I truly believe that now.”