Wednesday, May 04, 2011


It was 2:30 in the afternoon and we were clearing up after transporting a patient complaining of general sickness. As we were getting our truck put back together after transferring care to the ED staff, the radio heated up with a lot of traffic.

“Engine 2 to Fire Alarm! We have an MVC at Comm. and Wash! Two vehicles involved – one rolled over. Send medics!”

I heard all of this traffic on my partner’s radio. As it was, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t hearing any of the traffic on my radio. Since Fire Alarm was hailing us, we’d better answer them, and I couldn’t quite get a handle on what the problem was until I took the portable off of my belt and discovered I was on the wrong channel. So I changed to the correct one and acknowledged what by this time was anxious hails.

We got on the road – three of us, myself, my partner, and a third rider who is a new medic working to get cleared to work second. The accident scene wasn’t too far – maybe a mile – from the hospital. When we arrived we came up on a mess.

An engine, a ladder company, one BLS ambulance already on scene, the deputy chief who had command of the scene, and us. Two vehicles, one a Toyota Camry, the other a mini-van. The driver of the Camry was still in the vehicle when we arrived and was being assisted out by two firefighters and the crew of the BLS truck. An elderly female, had what appeared to be a fixed gaze. Serious bruising and deformity to her right hand, but no other apparent injury. Her airbag had deployed and she was restrained.

Firefighters on scene report that they witnessed this car driving the wrong way down the two-way road in front of their quarters. The mini-van had a green light and was proceeding through the intersection when they were struck on the driver’s side. The van was seen to have rolled twice and stopped with the driver’s side down. Two patients, married couple, 34 year-old female and a 35 year-old male. Both restrained with airbag deployment on the passenger side. Neither had lost consciousness during the rolling and when we arrived they were still trapped in their seats with firefighters extricating them. Tools and hydraulic equipment was out, both crews were working.

Both parties in the vehicle were conscious and alert. My third rider got inside the vehicle with the female passenger. Found out she was 38 weeks pregnant with a due date in mid-May. She was concerned about whether or not her baby was moving. Rightfully so, in fact; she was driving the van and was the one stuck on the bottom.

During the extrication process I’d asked the chief in command to get a third ambulance to the scene. The driver of the Camry was being taken to the local hospital as her injuries didn’t appear to be serious. But there was the question of whether or not she’d become disoriented prior to the accident and was going the wrong was as a result. I don’t know the answer to that, simply because I had no direct contact with her. On the other hand, us and the inbound ambulance ambulance had to be concerned with the potential for serious injuries for both parties, not to mention the possibility of things going bad for the baby on board.

So the third ambulance arrived. Both patients were still in the van, and it was being cut apart much like an aluminum can. Within a few minutes the passenger was released and moved onto a backboard then placed in the third ambulance. They got on the road pretty quickly. Shortly thereafter the driver was extricated successfully, also put on a board, and moved onto my stretcher. Because of her size – she was all baby – we wanted to make sure she didn’t collapse her great vessels, so we ensured the board was up at an angle. We got her loaded onto the ambulance, assessed her, and made tracks into Boston.

She only had one complaint to speak of: pain in her lower back. As I said before, she was extremely concerned about her baby. On the way into the hospital we monitored both mother and baby very closely. We could feel and hear movement, which was really encouraging, and we were able to get a lot of good information from the mother. It was her first pregnancy, she appeared to be in excellent physical condition, and she was a better-than-average historian. And it was a quick trip to the hospital, complicated only by a phone call from my boss wondering why we were driving so fast. My partner took the call and very quickly got him off the phone after telling him what was going on. The other ambulance got a similar call and from what I was told were even shorter. I spoke with him myself a little later and made certain he understood why we were so short.

He got the message.

When we got to the hospital, a whole bunch of really anxious doctors and nurses were awaiting our arrival. We got our patient into the treatment room and I gave report. While I was talking to the room I had a really antsy OB-GYN nurse doing everything possible to get in my way. I wasn’t terribly happy about that, but I worked around her and then gave her whatever she wanted for information when I was done. Not long after, I was approached by two nurses that were managers. They were looking for more information about the crash and the circumstances of extrication. It was pretty intense; I don’t recall ever being questioned as closely as I was.

I found before we left that both of our patients, as well as the baby, were doing okay. Neither was seriously injured, and both would probably be cut loose after being thoroughly evaluated and monitored for a while.

They were both damned lucky.

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