Car vs. Tree… vs. Rescue Squad


“Keep your head down, dammit!”

Even with my head safely turtled into the collar of my turnout gear, I could still recognize the voice of Truck 15′s driver above me. He had given me a sharp smack on top of my helmet as a gentle reminder that there was a large hydraulic tool nestling its way into the space above my head.

As my legs started to cramp from my awkward placement between a tree and what used to be a car door, I wondered how I had arrived in this position.

“Units responding with the first battalion, respond on tac channel zero-alpha three.”

I stumbled out of the bunkroom and caughtsnippets of the radio transmission as I climbed into the wagon, trying to shake sleep from my brain the whole way there.

“…vehicle into a tree…”

“…report of persons trapped…”

I snapped up the last of my turnout coat and grabbed my helmet as the engine pulled up on scene. A four-door sedan had lost control on a turn and slammed broadside into a thick tree. The (now) horseshoe-shaped vehicle had only a single occupant, who was now pinned between the front edge of the passenger seat and the glove compartment.

“Hey, man! Get me the $@&* outta here! Pull me up, man!”

Okay, he’s breathing. That’s always good.

The layout man went over to put the car in park while I headed around to the passenger side. The vehicle had rebounded off of the tree, providing a two-foot space in which I could talk to the driver through the shattered side windows.

“Good thing the squad’s coming. They’re gonna have to cut this guy out.”

My officer’s voice spurred me into action. I saw an opportunity for something interesting, so I grabbed a c-collar and squeezed into the narrow space. I mean, if I’m going to be up at 3am, why not get my hands a little dirty?

With the collar firmly in place, I assumed my awkward half-crouch stance, arms extended to hold manual spine stabilization. I felt the rescue squad rumble up on the street behind me, and I could hear their voices discussing the best way to get the patient out. Suddenly, a sheet descended on the patient and I, whiting out our view of the surroundings but enabling me to clearly talk to him and determine the extent of his injuries.

Moments later, bits of windshield bounced off our makeshift tent as the glass saws went to work. As far as I could tell, he wasn’t banged up too bad; he was just pinned into the car. I tried to stretch my neck a bit to combat the strange angle I had it at inthe window–which brings us back to the beginning.

I heard a hydraulic cutter hit the B-post of the car, inches above my head. It hissed to life as metal bit into metal, making the first of several cuts necessary to remove the roof. Several minutes later, the top of the car and our covering were lifted, having completed the modification into a convertible.

This, of course, only served to give us a little more breathing room for the final steps: rolling the dash and extricating the patient. Using hydraulic rams, the squad guys actually pushed the dashboard further away from the seats, giving us enough space to wiggle the patient out. Now, it’s good-news/bad-news time.

Good news: while in the car, the patient had full functionality of his extremities, anormal blood pressure,and was answering all of my questions appropriately while denying any pain.

Bad news: having his torso/abdomen squeezed by the dash was apparently keeping his blood pressure at a decent level. When we stretched him out onto a backboard, we found his blood pressure had dropped to around 65-70 and he was acting a little woozy. Oh, andnow everything hurts. While inside the medic unit, I helped package him up, started two IVs, and sent him on his way to the trauma center.

Back to sleep?

Well, it’s almost 4:30am.

Nah, might as well stay up and wait for the first relief to arrive.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Two Attitudes. | Raising Ladders
“Social Media Policy” How does it affect the bloggers?
[…] I know, I’ve held off on posting for a long time due to the social media policy our administration was holding people to. It was a difficult road to navigate—but I realized […]
2015-04-10 20:21:15
Phil Hayes
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Boa doesn't make the boots, they designed and license the lacing system. The Boa system has been around for a while now, it's pretty common on snowboard boots and some other sporting footwear. The boots are from Blauer, which is based in Boston.
2015-01-19 22:22:59
Captain Scott Hetrick
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Interesting that BOA is from my home town of Steamboat Springs, and they didn't approach our Fire Department to do a field test or even let us know that they were working on a duty boot. Small towns are funny sometimes. Captain Scott Hetrick Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
2014-11-29 21:26:03
stephen miller
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
2014-02-22 09:33:24
John Struve
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
2014-02-22 06:20:28

Alex Capece's Discussions

Follow Alex Capece
"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
November 2009
« Oct   Dec »

FireEMS Blogs eNews

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter