One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.
While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.
Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.
The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.
I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.
Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.
I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)
As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.
Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.
Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.
Not altogether different from me.