Crash Course

A veteran paramedic details the aftermath after a car police had tried to stop collided with his ambulance


The following piece is reprinted with permission from the author from his blog Granting "Sirenity"—Serenity and Wisdom of a veteran EMS Paramedic and Educator

MIC 3 Give Me the Air!

(pronounced as mick)

November 11, 2012

"MIC 3! Urgent. Give me the air!" (His voice panting and confused, only able to process the name of one of the two intersecting streets they're on.) "I'm on Central and... (long pause), I'm just east of 1st St.... (another pause), MIC 3, I'm on Central Ave...." (Radio silence.)

"Units clear the air! MIC 3, your location. Are you injured?" (The sound of a microphone keying up, but only labored breathing is heard.)

"MIC 3, repeat your last!!"

This is the kind of radio transmission that no one in public safety wants to hear. A unit, clearly in distress and disoriented is looking to call for help but can't clear their thoughts enough to articulate a clear message. Their vehicle has been struck by another, at a high rate of speed and redirected into a tree.

Green means it's safe right?

Paramedic educator/legend John Nichol is said to have told his students: "The most dangerous place to be in Newark is at a green light." He told them this truism because of the ridiculous amount of auto-theft and subsequent collisions that follow from joy riding, car-jacking and police pursuits. Last night, Nichol's pearls of wisdom proved true for this author.

While traveling to our post (a designated street corner where we await disaster and mayhem), we slowly rolled down a street and proceeded through a light-controlled intersection (and yes, my light was in fact GREEN!), when my attention was immediately turned left by the sound of a siren. By the time I looked and saw a New Jersey State Trooper chasing the striking vehicle, it was too late. The suspect vehicle struck my unit across the front and redirected us into a tree along a curb.

I could hear the subsequent impact of the suspects' vehicle, followed by the commanding screams and shouts of the troopers taking down the perps. What I couldn't do was get out to see or help or do anything. By the sound of things, it would only be a few seconds before I heard a hail of gunfire and, with my vehicle disabled, I'd have nowhere to go but down and pray they didn't come our way. I thought of three things only: breathing, my partner, Nicole, and my children. My partner assured me she was okay and directed her attention to me. I tried to focus on wrapping my head around what was happening and how to remain conscious.

The Response

401, 410, Rescue 1, 1201, 1203, MIC 4, MIC 1 and SOG (Special Operations Group) members returning from assisting the victims of Hurricane Sandy all came to help us. And I'll admit, I have never been so happy to see their faces.

Within a flash of light, a hostile transfer of energy, mass, velocity, force and direction, I was transformed from caregiver to patient. My cape had been stripped, my light saber dimmed and no longer could I leap tall buildings or fly. I was in the gentle hands of my co-workers, my brothers and sisters.

I must admit they look a lot different from beneath. I saw all their faces. I saw them look into my eyes, some stroked my hair. They held my hand and coached my breathing and assured me all would be well. We've danced this dance a thousand times, but I'm always beside and not beneath. They treated me according to best practices and they allayed my fears as we traveled to the hospital. Later, two by two, the units marched into my room, offered help and wished me well. Some helped coordinate my family's arrival at the ED (a great help). I could ask for no better group of people to call my co-workers, to call my family.

Long story short is this: My partner and I were treated and released at the local trauma center. Bad guy 1 has broken the law and is now in custody. Bad guy 2 succumbed to the laws of physics and is now in the Lord's hands. I'm not sure how extensive the damage is to my vehicle. I do feel bad because one less vehicle in an already decimated fleet is good for no one.

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