Mail carrier helps save lives

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Kim Korbel believes there is more to being a mail carrier than just delivering the mail. “Taking care of my customers is my job.”

OKEECHOBEE — “Taking care of my customers is my job. I see them every day,” said Kim Korbel, who recently went above and beyond the call of duty to help save the lives of two of the customers on her mail route. One of her customers was outside washing her carport in May when she fell and broke her back, her heel and maybe her ankle. Because she has a shrub and a privacy fence, no one could see her or hear her yell for help.

“She was out there for about an hour and a half before I drove by,” said Ms. Korbel. “All I could see was her arm, and I could barely hear something. I had delivered a package next door, and I ran over there and got her phone. It was up too high where she couldn’t reach it.” The woman told her if she hadn’t come she would have laid there until 7:30 or 8 p.m. when her husband got home and might have died. At the hospital, she was immediately taken into surgery.

The second one was an 84-year-old man, who normally picked up the mail from his box every day, every other day at the very least. Last week, she delivered his mail on Thursday, and it was still in there on Friday. She didn’t think much of it. It’s the holidays, and people are busy. She was off on Saturday and Sunday. When Monday rolled around, the mail was still in there, but they have to get back by a certain time to get the mail out, and she was rushed, and the neighbor down the street wasn’t out. She wanted to check, but she likes to have someone with her in case there is someone in the house.

Tuesday, his mail was still in his mailbox, and she went down and got his neighbor. They found him lying on the floor, and he had been lying there since Thursday or Friday of the previous week. Nothing was broken, but he was severely dehydrated. She said she has been beating herself up ever since for not going in on Monday. She has been to the hospital twice to check on him, and he is doing OK, she said. “I guarantee the next time he misses a day, I will be in that house,” she said. “I felt so bad. I could just kick myself.”

Ms. Korbel tries to make a point of paying attention to what’s going on around her. She looks at the yards, and notices the people. “To me, that’s my job,” she said. “I keep a check on the older people, especially the single ones. If something doesn’t seem right, doesn’t look right, a door is open, I check. I’m just that way.” She is on rural route 13 from Kissimmee River fishing resort to Southwest 48th Avenue and has worked for the postal service for 14 years.

“I’m thankful both of them are all right,” she said.

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