By Sherri Coner
As a 1992 graduate of Southport High School, Rob Williams of Center Grove knew that medicine was his future. He also knew that after enrolling at IUPUI and snagging a paramedic position, he was almost eerily comfortable with working in the back of an ambulance.
Brutal competition for medical school acceptance led Rob to deviate from his pre-med plan long enough to become an EMT, master those skills and again apply for medical school.
But then life happened.
He earned a degree in criminal justice and focused on his demanding career as an EMT.
Fate flirted with this serious guy during a 2003 emergency run to medically assess a pretty young woman named Nicole, whose heart rate was 300.
“Robbie captured it and saved my life,” Nicole said of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), the heart condition she did not know she had until the handsome EMT suggested it as a possible diagnosis.
After the ambulance ride to a nearby emergency room, they parted ways and that was that.
A year later, Rob applied for a supervisory role on the Air Evac Lifeteam (AEL), a medical helicopter.
“I was the first flight paramedic they ever hired,” he said.
On an April 2004 flight with a heart transplant patient, the helicopter fell 2,000 feet out of the night sky and crashed in a Southern Indiana cornfield.
Despite suffering multiple injuries, Williams used his cell phone to contact dispatchers.
Three medical helicopters – one from Kentucky and two from Illinois – as well as an Indiana State Police helicopter searched the dark, hilly area for the crash site.
Williams used a pin light to guide them.
All crew members suffered multiple injuries and the patient died.
In 2011, fate again tapped at the hearts of Rob and Nicole.
“Our first date was on 11/11/11,” Nicole said with a giggle.
Engaged by February 2012, they married in September.
At the time, Nicole’s children from a previous marriage were close to adulthood.
So the honeymooners quickly got pregnant with Xavier, now 10.
“Robbie was over the moon, ecstatic that we were having a boy,” Nicole said.
Two years later, they were expecting twin boys.
Their first twin, Yael, did not survive when he was born at 22 weeks.
Two weeks later, Nicole insisted to nurses that their second twin was on his way.
When the nurse stepped out of the room, Rob pulled back the bed sheet to investigate and saw that Zander, all 1 pound-6-and-a-half-ounces of him, was literally rocketing into the world.
“Rob grabbed him by a leg and a butt cheek,” Nicole said with a laugh. “Zander still moves at 90 miles an hour.”
“I literally did not sleep through the night for the first six years of his life,” Rob said of Zander’s medical conditions. “He’s been attached to my hip ever since.”
After working in area fire departments as an EMT and firefighter, providing volunteer emergency care for Johnson County SWAT and countless other services, Rob has been employed for more than two years now in the IU Health Methodist Hospital emergency room.
He and Nicole coach the boys’ sports teams. They are also active in church, 4-H and Boy Scouts.
Nearly three decades of professional awards stay hidden in Rob’s upstairs office, and he doesn’t like to speak of them.
Though Nicole is proud of his professional impact, she also loves time at home, when Rob is simply her favorite guy in the world.
When her grandmother died, he brought home Siamese kittens, just like the ones from Nicole’s childhood with her grandmother.
“Rob is very allergic, but he said he would just take extra allergy medication,” Nicole smiled at the guy who never wants attention. “I love his heart, his wit and his intelligence. Rob is so self-sacrificing.”