Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Story time - traffic collisions

Here's a sampling of some of the traffic collisions my firefighter gets called to. It's interesting to hear the story of the participants in the accidents, and how their vehicle ended up on the side of the road.

As told by my firefighter...

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride


Our shift change is at 8:00 in the morning. We usually try to get to work early so that if a call goes out close to shift change the oncoming crew can take it allowing the other crew to go home. So at 7:30 a.m. this morning there was a mixed crew here. The tones went off for a traffic collision (TC) on the grade. Five of us got dressed and jumped in the engine and rolled for the call. If it sounds like a fun call the crew that is ending their shift will usually decide to run it.

We pull up on scene to find a bystander parked by the guard railing and an old woman walking in the brush. On further inspection we see a pickup truck way off in the distance in the brush. We look at the guard rail but it is completely intact. Turns out that she had misjudged the turn and went off the side of the road about a quarter mile back up the highway. She then plummeted several feet and landed in the riverbed, never hitting the brakes. She and her husband (who is legally blind...what a ride that must have been) then drove for about a quarter of a mile down the dry river bed bouncing over brush and piles of dirt 4 feet high. She finally came to a rest on the far side of the river bed.

When all was said and done, he was upset at her for wrecking their truck and was letting her know that he would never ride with her again. Both of them denied any treatment and signed out against medical advice (AMA). We helped them hike back up to the roadside where we let them sit in the back of a police car awaiting a family member to come pick them up.

She drove full speed down this dry riverbed.


That's her dark pickup truck off in the distance. We popped her hood open to disconnect the battery. The truck was in surprisingly good shape for all the off roading that it just went through.

A Knock at the Door

At about 7:00 in the evening on a Saturday we were cleaning up after a large dinner when we received an excited knock on the front door. The person at the door informed us that there was a nasty crash up the highway (I have no idea why people knock on the door at the station instead of using 911 - this wasn't the first time). As we got into our turnouts, our fire marshal (5202 on the radio) ran ahead in his vehicle to give us a scene size up. I was skeptical about how good (or bad, depends on your perspective) this call was going to be. We then heard 5202 come over the radio again, "Dispatch, 5202, we have a two vehicle TC with one occupant needing extrication. Dispatch, please start the state engine. Medic Engine 461 (that's us!) starting triage will advise." Then I knew that it was going to be a serious call. We asked dispatch for an ETA on Mercy (Mercy Air is our local helicopter transport) and got an ETA of about 25 minutes. 5202 came back on the radio, "Medic Engine 461 from 5202, we have two patients, one immediate and one delayed. Pull up to the white pick up for extrication."

As we pulled up we saw that the entire front driver's side of a Ford Ranger was destroyed and that our patient was sitting there with a deformed left arm dangling out the window. At this point we asked for Mercy to start for our location since we were anticipating a long extrication time. A rapid assessment showed that he was alert and oriented - and inebriated. His only complaint was his left arm and he swore that he could climb out of the vehicle. We convinced the driver (I'm not saying how) that it was in his best interest to sit there and to let us do our thing. He stated that he was wearing his seat belt (that and his airbag saved his life) and that he did not lose consciousness. He also stated that he had no medical problems, no allergies and takes no medications. After 10 minutes we had him out of the truck and strapped to the backboard. Once out of the vehicle a good secondary assessment showed that he had a left femur fracture. He wasn't going to be climbing anywhere. As I was sticking him with an IV, the ambulance showed up. Since we already had him ready to go we canceled the helicopter and let the ambulance take him to the trauma center. I gave them a quick report and sent them on their way.

Vehicle Rollover

At about 10:30 on a Saturday night we got a call for a single vehicle rollover. Dispatch also informed us that the driver had self extricated which usually means it's a non injury accident. We arrived on scene to find a car its side precariously balanced. The driver was a 20 year old male and he was intoxicated. We checked him out and he was alright. He had a small scratch on his head but that was all. He informed us that he did not want to go to the hospital. At this point the fire marshal told his mom (who had just arrived on scene) that if the kid didn't go to the hospital that he would be going to jail. Amazing, the kid decided to go to the hospital. That meant more paper work for me. The police showed up, had him take a breathalyzer test (blew a 0.162) and arrested him for DUI. The then released him to us. As we put him on a backboard a bottle of beer fell out of his pocket. Sure, he wasn't drinking. After sending him to the hospital we had to sit around and make sure everything was safe with the vehicle. It was dripping a little bit of fuel so we pulled a hose line and waited for the tow truck. Once he got there we watched as he unsuccessfully tried to upright the vehicle without rolling it onto its roof. It was fun to watch.


The driver crawled out his window. He's lucky that the car didn't roll on top of him.



Stephen Schaunt said...

It's no wonder that there are drivers who really need to go back to driving school or something. Just look at the circumstances of each situation. In these cases, at least, there were no serious injuries or fatalities. If there were, then your husband would have had a longer night.

Tracy Pierre said...

Yes Stephen, you're right! However, if a person already went through driving school, he or she must apply everything he or she learned at all times. Discipline should always be kept in mind.

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