Everyday Heroism After a Car Accident

The collective strength of strangers after a horrifying car accident is a moving example of everyday heroism.


| Summer 2017



Accident scene

The golden hour is a euphemism for your best chance of surviving a life-threatening injury, if you get to a surgeon in time.

Photo by Flickr/ursuanow

I’m riding shotgun in the ambulance, navigating us to a vehicle vs. pedestrian call we’ve just been tapped on. I’m picturing all the possibilities in my head. I’m picturing all the things we’ll have to do when we get there. There’ll be a quick triage to find out how many total are injured (pedestrians, plus or minus passengers, driver). Police and Fire will establish a blockade with their vehicles and orange cones to prevent other vehicles from driving into the scene and clipping one of us. We’ll have reflective vests on and we’ll still have to watch our six. There’ll be backboards and neck collars to apply. We’ll park our ambulance at a defensive angle that allows for a quick egress to the hospital. But right now, we’re still just trying to get there.

I tell my partner, Mark, to turn left on Farmington.

He says, “I got it. I know where this is, man,” and toggles the siren to a warble tone while approaching the intersection.

And he does know where this is. I know he does. He’s been doing this ambulance thing for years now, maybe decades. I’m the newer guy. I’ve seen a lot of things in my first two years, but there’s still a lot I haven’t seen. Some things you hope you never see.

Dispatch comes over the radio and says Life Flight’s on standby. If this patient is in a bad way, flying to the hospital rather than going by ground will save a few precious minutes of the golden hour. The golden hour is a euphemism to describe your best 60-minute chance of surviving a life-threatening injury, if you get to a surgeon in time.

There’s radio static inside the cab of our ambulance. Dispatch says, “The pedestrian is possibly trapped under the vehicle.”