I was going through an advanced EMT clinical and doing very well in the program, showing up to each clinical on time and ready to go. It was a Friday and I was scheduled to be at my clinical site at 8 am and I was 10 minutes early. Meeting with the EMS crew everything was just like any other clinical I had been to and somewhat better at first.
We got a call at about 9:30 am for a motor vehicle accident and I was thinking I finally get to practice the skills I learned in school on the way to the call. I was curious what the crew was talking about up front so I peeked through a little hole connecting the front and the back of the ambulance and I noticed the screen in the front of the ambulance updated from dispatch information stating “3-year-old female barely breathing” and at that moment I realized that one of my worst fears in my EMT career had come true.
Arriving on scene I quickly came to the realization what had happened. A large truck had T-boned a Ford Mustang going over 60 miles per hour, with the Mustang having 3 children and the mother in the vehicle. There was a 3-year-old female, a 5-year-old female and a 10-year-old male in the Mustang. Rushing over to the first patient I saw still in the Mustang was the 10-year-old male, and as I approached the vehicle I realized the patient had been partially cut in half at the abdomen and was dead.
My preceptor for this clinical told me to go help someone else so I approached the 3-year-old on the ground with a nurse who stopped for the wreck using a bag-valve mask on this patient. I took over with the bag-valve-mask but every time I would use the bag-valve-mask on her she would start crying but when I stopped she would start agonal respirations. Not long after I started the artificial respirations on her the helicopter crew arrived and allowed me to intubate her. The flight crew lifted the backboard onto their stretcher and took over care. As I was walking over to my preceptor to see what I needed to do next I saw the parents of the deceased 10-year-old yelling at him to get up and trying to pull him out of the car until police and firefighters stopped them.
After they had stopped the father walked up to the driver of the large truck who was in tears and punched him before the police had time to react. Meanwhile, the mother who was in the accident could barely walk and was twitching as she walked so me and a few other firefighters did a standing backboard maneuver and secured her to the backboard and loading her up into our ambulance we rushed her to the local hospital. After the call was over my preceptor and I were smoking and discussing the call. We were just on the outside, a dog gets its back end run over by a dump truck leaving it crawling off the road yelping in pain.
I dropped my cigarette and told my preceptor I was going home he said he didn’t blame me and said he was here if I ever needed him. I had told my clinical coordinator what had happened and he said he would call me back with some sort debriefing so I waited a day or two and tried calling back with no answer from him. I became desperate to talk to someone about what I had been through but nobody at the EMS service I was on the call with asked for a debriefing so I never received counseling until years later.
– Story written by Reece, 26 year old EMT-B. 5 years in EMS.