So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, working a mid city house, “Power Shift” (1400 to 0200) with Doug and Ed. It was one of those shifts wherein dispatch seemed to feel compelled to send us on a magical tour of Da City. We transported folks to hospitals that I had never expected to see in person. East side, west side, all around the town, as the song goes.
So, we were SNR’d on our latest run (SNR= Service Not Required. In this case, because the nominal sick person wanted no part of going to the hospital, and was only too happy to sign the waiver and bid us goodbye.) Since we had been out to the east side of nowhere that shift, well, I figured the Patron Saint(s) of EMS wanted us to head east.
There we were, motoring northwest along Alternate Main Drag Road, when Ed, looking out my window, saw a column of smoke. I wheeled north on Major Northbound Roadway, and, paralleling the airport, radioed in to dispatch, inquiring if there had been a report of a working fire in our vicinity.
Nope, they hadn’t heard a word.
Being inquisitive sorts, we continued northbound, until, coming to the roadway that formed the northern perimeter of the airport, we turned west, since the column of smoke was indeed to our west.
We found it, two blocks over, and turned onto the street in question. I pulled up in front of the house next door to the involved structure, thinking that our friends the firefighters might feel the need to place their engines adjacent to the burning structure. I noticed a light airplane sticking out of the roof of the burning structure, and supposed that the two were related.
I had no idea of what street we were on, so I called to the civilians milling about, asking for the name. They provided it to me. Then, I paused. I could see the house number of the house I had parked in front of, but had no idea of the house number of the involved structure.
Yeah, you’re right. After 2-3 seconds of reflection, it struck me that, if I could identify the burning house from my location, the highly trained, very experienced, thoroughly professional firefighters likely could replicate my feat of high level cerebral functioning.
I radioed in to dispatch, “Medic (number) on scene of a fully involved house, aircraft crash, casualties noted in the yard. Please send fire and additional ambulances.”
Then I unassed the rig. Ed had already pulled one fellow, laying in the driveway between the involved structure and the neighboring one, around the uninvolved structure and out of the radiant heat pouring from the fire. Doug was just getting to the other patient on the ground, and we pulled him, also, into the lee of the neighboring house and into their fenced in yard.
Once relatively safe, we conferred: Ed wanted a couple of backboards so we could rapidly splint these guys and get the hell out of dodge. I hopped the fence, grabbed the requisite materiel, and tossed it over the fence.
Doug and Ed rapidly backboarded the one guy, set the head of the board on the fence, and then one of them hopped the fence, he and I finished the lift, and trotted him to the rig.
We returned, helped Doug complete boarding the second guy, and back to the truck we went.
Once both were strapped into the ambulance, we were off. Coincidentally, the first engines were about set up and beginning to flow water as we departed.
I do not remember the run to TBTCIDC. I DO remember giving report, and the smoke smell we tried to clean out of the ambulance.
Funny thing. A couple of months later, I was visiting my brother in Alexandria, VA. Since he was working, I played tourist during the day. Now, this was 1983, around a year after the plane crashed into the 14th street bridge. The very bridge I had to cross into DC. As The Fates would have it, an aircraft– a big passenger jet– was landing as I was crossing the bridge. I don’t want to say it was close, but….I could count the rivets on the bottom, as it passed over my head.
Yeah, I didn’t break out in a cold sweat, or anything. Except, I did.