Ed's Note: This is a fictional account.
Angela jounced miserably as the ambulance went over another pothole. She looked down at the faint green glow of her watch in the dark. Only three more hours, she thought. She couldn't wait to go home, she was tired and the constant motion of the rig made her stomach feel queasy.
The ride along wasn't what she had expected. There were no exciting 'lights and siren' calls, only two routine hospital transfers. She knew Art and Jenn hadn't wanted her along in the first place. Well actually Art was okay with it, but Jenn wouldn't even talk to her, let alone allow her to do any patient care.
Angela wondered if she could go home early. Art was driving and she was pretty sure he would drop her off at the base if she asked. However, as she leaned forward into the cab to get his attention, Art's knuckles whitened on the steering wheel and he made a strange guttural sound as he stomped on the brakes. Angie braced herself against the compartment divider, then turned to look out the front windshield where Art's attention seemed to be focused. Her eyes widened and she took a quick startled breath.
The squeal of brakes combined with the sound of scraping metal as a small car hit a semi in the intersection ahead of the ambulance. The back end of the car vaulted into the air as the front end crumpled against the truck. As the car's momentum pulled it over onto its roof, one of the doors flew open and belongings strewed across the highway. The car landed upside down, bounced once and slid several feet, sending a shower of sparks into the air. Jenn, who had not been watching the road, looked up in confusion at the noise.
"Shit!" she said reaching for the mic to call dispatch. Identical looks of dismay were on all three faces as they watched smoke begin to pour out from under the car. Art stopped the rig and angled it across the road. He reached over to turn on the emergency lights as Jenn slid the mic back into its metal clip. She grabbed her flashlight and portable radio from the floor and unclipped her seatbelt in a quick motion. She considered the scene for a second, then keyed the mic again to remind dispatch to start the fire department.
Angela looked from the car to the semi. The truck had jackknifed and rolled onto its passenger's side. She could see the driver trying to climb out of the window. She jerked open her door and got out, slipping on the metal step in her haste. Through the haze of smoke she could see someone moving inside the car. Angie's teeth chattered as she tried to think what she should do.
"Backboards and c-collars," she said out loud, her mind spinning. She raced towards the equipment compartment at the back of the rig, almost colliding with an anxious older woman who was hurrying towards her. The woman grabbed Angie's arm and turned to point across the road.
"Over there! I thought it was a doll. You know, one of those big dolls," she said.
"What?" Angela asked.
The woman pulled frantically at her arm, "Come on!"
Angie wasn't sure what to do. Her instincts told her she should get Art or Jenn, but they were checking patients in the rolled car. She decided she would see what the woman was upset about first. As they hurried towards the ditch across the road, the woman kept a tight grip on Angie's arm. When they passed an empty car seat smeared with blood and dirt, the woman stopped abruptly, put a hand over her mouth and pointed stiffly towards the bottom of the ditch.
Angie scrambled down the bank, sliding on the loose gravel. It was dark, but there was enough light to see a small form lying in a dense patch of weeds. She stooped down close to the body as "Rapid Trauma Assessment" flew through her head and then vanished without a trace. Angie's mind went blank and she felt rooted to the ground. Even when she heard someone sliding down the bank behind her, she couldn't take her eyes away from the baby.
An angry voice hissed in her ear, "If you can't do anything, get the hell out of the way!"