DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. -- Paramedics with DeKalb Ambulance Service are spending their Christmas making someone else's better. It's called Home for the Holidays.
Leslie Behringer stood outside DeKalb Ambulance Service in Fort Payne on a cold Christmas Eve morning. "Know where I'm going?" she asked another crew before heading to a marked DAS vehicle. "We're getting ready to take off," she told someone inside.
On the day before Christmas some of the crews were working especially for one task. "We are calling in special crews to do this service," Behringer said, "Our regular emergency calls still happen."
"We've offered a service called Home for the Holidays," Behringer explained, "What we're doing is we're offering to carry people who are bed-bound or wheelchair-bound, usually in a facility like a nursing home or a group home, carry them home so they can spend dinner, have dinner and the day with their families for Christmas."
It's a first-time service the DAS staff hopes to grow even more next year. They offer it to their entire coverage area for free.
"We really enjoy doing it," Behringer said, "It's such a special service. Everybody's so happy and there's so much joy involved."
The marked DAS vehicles pull up to a building in Fort Payne as their first stop that morning. The paramedics get out, go inside, and with a smile, say hello to their first special guest: Dorothy Crump. "We're good! Merry Christmas to you!" Behringer said with a smile.
This is one stop of many, and the crews started in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. "Ms. Dorothy we're going to strap you down like a race car driver!" Behringer said as they secure the wheelchair into the van.
"Okay!" Crump said, laughing.
The paramedics shut the door and got in. "Here we go, Mrs. Crump!"
"Everyone's so excited when we get there," Behringer said. This drive took them to Henagar.
"We're just honored to provide this service to the people of DeKalb County. They're the ones who support us and keep us in business and keep us running and available all the time, so we're just honored to give back to the people of DeKalb County on this special day," Behringer said.
The crews will pick up the residents when they're done celebrating Christmas. There was a sign-up period in the weeks leading up to Christmas for families to take advantage of the free program.