The call came out a little after midnight. Vehicle vs tree. For a person who normally remembers anniversary dates, I can’t remember the day, month or year of this call. I have no idea why. We raced down the dark streets. Pulling down the dark street, we see that we are the first ones on scene. As we get closer, my heart drops. Feels like I can’t breathe. I swear it’s my brothers car. I swear it is.
We both silently get out and grab everything. My partner get to the car first and sees this young guy unresponsive. The only way to get to him was to crawl into the passenger side windows. The kid is pinned into the drivers side. I feel panicked inside. I know my job. I know my training. I know what needs to be done. But I’m afraid. I swear this is my brothers car! I’m scared to look inside. I look inside at our patient. It looks like my brother, but with darker hair. His body looks like my brother. I feel like I can’t breathe! My brother needs help!
My partner asks me to hand him the BVM and oxygen. He puts the mask on him and starts bagging (breathing for him). I hand him the monitor and he starts applying fast patches and blood pressure cuff. Where’s the fire department? Where’s law enforcement? Why aren’t they here now! We gotta get him cut out! My panic level was raging inside. Outside, I was normal. I had a job to do. My brother needs help. I’m getting things ready outside the car. Getting c-spine equipment ready. My partner yells at me that his blood pressure is low and his heart was racing. Time is not on our side. Where is fire?
I climb in through the window. The glass cut my glove and my arm. I’m in the back seat now bagging (breathing for) our patient. We have to duck our heads down and keep low because the roof is caved in and the car has extensive compartment intrusion from the drivers side of the car. We barely fit or have room to move. I hear fire and law’s sirens. Thank God! He looks like my brothers age. I had to suction blood out of his mouth. I am talking to him. I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m just talking.
PD has his wallet now to identify him. I hear fire say “we have to cover you guys with a blanket. We have to cut the roof off” I feel something being thrown over me. We can barely fit in this crushed car as it is. My brother stops breathing! His heart stops! I can’t breathe! We have his seat laying back as far as his crushed car would allow. My partner starts compressions. I’m still bagging.
“Come on!!! Don’t die! Please!! You can’t!” PD yells in at us that he lives 2 houses down from the accident. Oh no! We can’t let his family see this! We gotta get him out of here! The sound of glass breaking. The sound of metal crunching. Glass is all over me now. I have several little stinging cuts on my neck that I can feel.
“Come on! Don’t die! Please you can’t! I can’t live without you!” Suddenly I feel cool air. Fire pulled the blanket off of us. We could sit up now. “Come on!! Please!” Everything had gone in slow motion until that point. Then we had him out and onto the backboard. So many lights. So many firefighters and police there. We get him to the back of the ambulance and I’m pumping on his chest as hard as I could. His belly is getting big. I know he’s bleeding inside. Bad. I know he’s not going to live. But I have to try.
I jump in the drivers seat and fly. Driving so fast. I’m almost shaking. Watching them continue to work in my rear view mirror. Praying I don’t lose my brother. We get him to the hospital. Continuing compressions. I watch them work on my brother. His belly is huge now. His internal bleeding can’t be stopped. He’s dead. He’s gone. Doctor calls time of death. I tried so hard to save him. I know we couldn’t. But I tried.
My partner tells me I’m covered in glass. So was he. I text my baby brother like I often do during the night. Hoping he responds. He does. “What”. I told him I loved him. That can’t have been his car. He’s answering my text message. A couple days later I’m with my brother. I’m reading the kids obituary on my phone. I try not to cry. My brother has no clue what happened obviously. I start crying silent tears. My brother asks me what’s wrong. He looks at the obituary and immediately starts sobbing. It was his friend.
He sold him his car a couple weeks ago. I can’t stop crying. He falls into my arms crying uncontrollably. All I can say through my tears is “I’m sorry! I tried to save him! I tried everything! I swear! I tried!”. I still can’t drive down that road. I heard they removed the tree. I start panicking when I hear glass breaking or the sound of metal crunching. I still cry. Several years later, I still cry.
My dreams haunt me. In my dreams it’s my brother I’m trying to save. That is one of my most emotionally difficult calls. I don’t talk about it. It’s too hard. That feeling was real. I thought it was my brother! Even though I think I knew it wasn’t. But it was his car.
– Story written by a 35 year old female EMT.