Tuesday, June 26, 2007


If you've been in EMS for awhile, you've probably been to car-wreck calls where either you couldn't believe how freaking lucky the occupant(s) were, or you couldn't get over the small detail that led someone to a particularly poor outcome.

For example, I can remember a crash last year. My partner and I were called last fall at about 01:00 to a single-car 10-50. The town's Fire Department and their 1st responders headed there, as well as the State Police. When we got on scene, the FD and PD were searching the tall grass and woods adjacent to a smoking heap that used to be a car. A discussion with the State Trooper nearest the scene revealed that there were no occupants in the car, and so far, no one had been found injured or deceased anywhere near the vehicle. My partner and I examined the vehicle to see for ourselves if anyone was in it, and to get an idea of mechanism of injury should a patient be located.

From what we could piece together, the driver was going at a very high rate of speed down a paved country road, lost control, veered off the road just at a spot where a ledge dipped down to road level. The car rode up the ledge as if climbing a ramp, continued on for a couple hundred feet, taking out sections of barbed wire fence and several small trees before careening off the ledge and ending up in a ditch adjacent to the road, on its roof, flat as a pancake.

We convinced ourselves after a pretty thorough inspection that there was no one in the vehicle, and if someone had survived the wild ride, they probably wouldn't have had the space to crawl out and take off. That left only one reasonable explanation: The occupant(s) was/were ejected during the crash and were lieing dead or injured somewhere, or were uninjured enough to run.
No sign of anyone was ever found, though I'm sure that the police investigation eventually led to someone who was likely involved.

So, that brings to mind another 10-50 we responded to. A car left the highway on a dry, warm night, slid down an embankment and rolled several times. We found the driver, deceased, still in the vehicle. Looking at the skid marks and talking to the investigators leads me to believe to this day that a momentary lapse at the wheel, maybe reaching for a CD or seeing a deer at the side of the road, coupled with the steep embankment (and just plain old bad luck or whatever), caused the car to swerve just enough, and that was it. I still have a hard time getting my head around that.

Tim McGraw's song, Live Like You Were Dying talks about living every day like it might be your last. So hard to fully put into practice, but do any of us really know?

Stay safe out there.

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