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I learned later that I'd been discovered almost at once by Judy Campbell, our household assistant. Judy called out for Vicki, who was still in the sunroom, waiting for me to return. When Vicki saw me, she ran to my side and instructed Judy to call 911, and then my physician in Boston, Dr. Larry Ronan. As she waited for the local rescue team to arrive, Vicki wedged herself into the chair beside me and cradled my head. I was not aware of it then, but she held me tenderly, kissing my cheek and patting me and whispering, "You’re going to be okay."

I took just four minutes for the first responder to arrive. He was a Hyannis police officer who told Vicki, " Iwas an army medic," to which my wife blurted, "Oh, thank God! Come in!" The paramedics arrived about half a minute later. No one knew how to diagnose me. They suspected a stroke. They prepared me for transportation—this took some time—and took me to the Cape Cod Hospital, where I was deeply sedated while they performed initial tests. Vicki was in constant contact with my doctors in Boston, who were in turn in contact with the Cape Cod team. The Boston doctors dispatched a medevac helicopter to transport me to Massachusetts General Hospital. In fairly short order, I was airlifted to the hospital in Boston. Vicki, meanwhile, continued to focus on the necessary tasks. Sitting in the car while I was being readied, before we even left home, she phoned as many members of our combined families as she could reach. "The second I called 911," she explained to me later, "I knew that this was going to be on the news, and I didn’t want everyone close to us to find out that way." To every family member who asked Vicki, "Should we come?" she replied, "Yes. Yes. You’ve got to come." Then, as the chopper hurtled through the air on its half-hour flight to the hospital, Vicki hitched a ride there with the Hyannis fire chief, Harold Brunelle, who is a good friend of ours. She continued calling family members all the way to Boston.
FROM: Remembering Ted Kennedy: Vicki Kennedy's First TV Interview
Published on November 25, 2009

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