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Vehicle Accidents – Emergency Vehicles

February 2, 2012

It seems like bad things tend to happen when I’m out of town. The Assistant EMS Director called me late last night with the news – there had been a little accident.

The ambulance driver slightly bumped a car while backing up during an emergency call. As it turned out the accident was minor like described – too bad that hasn’t always been the case.

I don’t want to discount safety, or the need to prevent accidents, but if you drive enormous vehicles at a high rate of speed through red lights and stop signs – you might want to prepare for an occasional accident. Here’s a few that have happened during my career.

I had been on the job a whole week when the fire alarm sounded for the gothic four-story military school on the edge of town. This was back when firefighters stood on the tailboard and hung onto a head-high horizontal bar.

My tailboard partner and I could see a column of smoke rising in the distance as we roared down Santa Fe Ave.

Shift Commander “Charlie” was leading the way – or should I say paving the way – with his full-size 70’s model red Chevrolet station wagon. About half-way between the fire station and school was where it happened.

The driver of the other vehicle might have had the green light, but this was back when red vehicles offset red lights. We came upon the “other driver” who had exited his car that was now lying on its’ side shooting a stream of steam from its radiator.

Then there was the day the ambulance crew took an uncharted dirt road path across the county. Neither of the crew members noticed the “Low Water Bridge” sign as they passed.

The speed at which they met the low water bridge is still in dispute. What isn’t in dispute is the ambulance jumped the gap in the roadway – almost.

When the ambulance came down on the leeward side of the bridge, the front axle folded under the ambulance like a cheap tent. Hence to say the ambulance was never the same.

Sometimes accidents happen back at the station.

An unusual structure fire still had the focus of firefighters as they re-loaded hose on the aerial ladder. Loading the hose required raising the hydraulic ladder. But, firefighters figured out a way to side-step the use of the outriggers to make the process go a bit faster. That safety short-change was partially responsible for what happened.

With his focus a bit off-kilter the driver plum forgot to lower the aerial ladder as he pulled into the fire station – poked it right through the gable end like a shish kabob.

There are other stories, but I think you get the point. We don’t want to simply accept them, but accidents do happen.

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