It’s been a few days since I posted. My apologies, but I’m sure you’ll understand once I explain.

Wednesday morning went well.

I went over to my main client’s factory and attended a meeting about business process change. It was interesting and I got a slew of tasks to take care of.

It started snowing a little Tuesday night, then got harder Wednesday morning. While I was on my way out of the factory, I was flagged down by an engineer. We spoke briefly, not quite getting to the problem or issue he wanted to discuss, when my pager went off. It was for the fire and rescue squad in a certain town to respond to a car accident. I’m on the rescue squad so I excused myself and ran out to my car.

I flipped on the lights, front and back, and got underway. The roads had gotten worse; I could hear that other agencies were working traffic accidents, as well. I wasn’t too concerned; my car, a Subaru Legacy, is all-wheel-drive and very good in the snow. Very good, really. The car was a gift from my favorite uncle; he thought the AWD would be good for my Fire/EMS work in the winter and he had decided he could no longer drive a manual transmission. I’d made some modifications; added Whelen Talon dual LED strobes, red/white, in front, hooked a wig-bag box to the brake lights and white reverse lights, also added a Whelen siren, hooked to the horn on the steering wheel, and a (cheapish) aftermarket CD/radio. Front and back lights are both controlled by switches on the dashboard. Nice.

While I was enroute to the scene, an EMT from the rescue squad arrived on scene and found that the occupants were out of the car and uninjured. He canceled our response to the scene. I switched off the lights and resumed driving with the flow of traffic. I was most of the way home so I headed on to my office.

Snow covered the driveway but I did not have difficulty getting up the hill. The driveway is on a hill with a 80 degree bend in the middle. It can be a challenge to get up in some vehicles with snow on the ground; on more than one occasion, I’ve had to bring the tractor down with chains to pull cars right-way-round in the driveway. My Subaru, however, has never had an issue with the hill climb. This car was seemingly made for winter.

I went to the office and spoke with Supertech for a bit, then got to work.

About a half-hour later, a fire chief in the neighboring town called the dispatcher on the radio and stated that they needed my volunteer department to respond to a car accident along the desolate road that winds for several miles through a thin valley between the two towns. Steep mountains ride close on both sides of the road; the active Black River tumbles through the valley as well, on the south side of the road. The chief informed the dispatcher that it was a car into a ditch and that the driver was entrapped and would need extrication.

Anticipating the tone, I got up and put my jacket. As the tones started, I was headed out. I said goodbye to Supertech and went out to my car. It had been warm lately and so my jump bag and AED had been living in the car rather than being shuttled into the house or office. For some unthinking reason, I had placed them in the front seat of the car rather than the back. My O2 tank was in an airway bag behind the seat. Other responder crap was in the trunk, where it all usually belongs. I had idly wondered several times over the past few days about what would happen if the airbags deployed with the jump bag and AED in the front seat. Too big to throw in back while driving and forgotten by the time I reached my destination, they stayed in the front seat.

I started down towards where the driveways merge and found myself sliding towards the ditch above the intersection. I was able to correct and slowed down to a crawl. I turned and followed the tree-lined driveway down towards the turn, a sharp downhill turn to the left.

As I crept down the steepening driveway, the car started to slide. While the car was still sliding slowly, I lightly touched the brake but nothing happened. As the car picked up speed, I was somewhat able to direct the car with the accelerator and guided the car down the driveway to the left. In front of the car were trees and a steep downward slope; if I could make the turn, there was a straight run-out.

I was able to get the car most of the way around the corner before I realized that I was not going to complete the turn. The car was sliding quickly; too quickly.

It became obvious that I was going to hit a certain large tree right off the edge of the driveway. I had been getting concerned that I was going to launch into space off the side of the driveway into the woods, so this almost seemed okay.

I knew the airbags were going to go off when I hit the tree. I didn’t want to get hit with my airbag.

I pushed myself back in my seat as the car hit the tree, pushing hard with my hands and feet. The car hit the tree at an angle off the driveway, though the car hit the tree square in the center of the front end. The hood crumpled up towards me and the airbags exploded.

Bang.

Smoke filled the passenger compartment. I had felt the bag touch me, but lightly. I seemed okay. The smoke smelled nasty. I opened the door and got out.

As I got out, I noticed an abrasion on my left hand. My shins hurt.

I looked at the car. It was in bad shape. It looked as though it had been driven at a high rate of speed into a tree. It looked totaled.

I went around to the passenger side and pulled out my jump bag, AED, and oxygen, and put them on a snow bank. If the car was going to burst into flames, I wanted the important stuff out.

Then I walked up the hill to the office. I was in a bit of a fog. I stopped in and said hello to Supertech; he was surprised to see me so soon and a bit shocked when I told him that I had totaled my car in the driveway. Then I went over to the house and told RabidKitten. She was also shocked.

Then I went back over to the office. I called dispatch and asked them to please make sure I was added to the responder list for the call that I had been responding to; I had not yet signed on the radio and needed to be added to the list for liability reasons. Then I asked them to tone my volunteer department for the car accident for possible hazmat (leaking fluids).

Then I headed back down to the car. The tones went out; as soon as they were done I radioed off on scene and gave an update (‘single car vs. tree, airbag deployment, no entrapment, occupant out of vehicle, no apparent injuries’).

After a few minutes, the chief and another firefighter showed up in Engine 1. The other accident was not as bad as it sounded on the radio so they had left Engine 2 and a few other firefighters on scene and come over. The firefighter with the chief helped me carry stuff from the car up to the office.

After a while, the chief suggested that I should get checked out medically. He called the town administrator; he agreed that I should go to the hospital. My back and neck were starting to hurt a bit so I agreed. The chief called for an ambulance. I went and sat in the engine.

A state police trooper showed up and did some paperwork. By this time, the deputy chief had shown up as well; he got the registration and insurance information out of the car and gave it to the trooper. The trooper came over and spoke to me briefly; he told me that there would not be a formal report since the accident had happened on private property.

After some time, the ambulance showed up. I walked over and got in back. I chatted with the EMTs for a while; eventually we all agreed that I should be boarded and collared. They got out a collar, board, straps, and blocks and put me into immobilization. They asked me for my choice of hospital; I asked to go the place where my paid squad transports patients to.

I could hear on the radio that the roads were very poor and that more accidents were happening all over. Just as we started rolling, my paid department got toned to what sounded like a serious accident right near the hospital. I realized that I would be waiting for a while once we got there.

We rode over to the hospital. I spoke to the tech from time to time. Mostly I stared at the ceiling. The transport probably took 20 or 25 minutes in the snow.

They unloaded me at the hospital and took me into the ED. The ED put me on a monitor, drew bloods, and were very nice to me. My ED friends, of course, were surprised and concerned to see me. They were very apologetic about the wait while the higher-priority patient was dealt with but I, for my part, was gracious and understanding. The PA was very nice and agreed, on my request, to undo my leg straps allowing me to bend my knees and hips for some relief from the backboard. When X-Ray was ready for me, the X-Ray tech padded the board under the small of my back which brought a great deal of relief. Note to self; pad immobilized patients.

I asked one of my ED friends to take some pictures with my camera; she did.

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I ended up being on the board for just under three hours from start to finish.

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After I came out of X-Ray, an off-duty Lt. McClown happened to come up to visit my photographer friend. With my permission, she alerted him to my presence and he came in and hung out with me until I was released, a very pleasant diversion. On my release (muscle strain and left-hand abrasion the only injuries), McClown drove me to the pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled (cyclobenzaprine and hydrocodone) and then dropped me at my paid station. The deputy chief from my volunteer squad came and picked me up from there and took me home.

When I got home, I took some pictures of the car on the tree. It had snowed some.
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This is the following day.
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I was a bit of a zombie Wednesday night and Thursday. Friday I stopped taking the meds since I had a 48 at my paid department starting at six.

I was a little cranky over the weekend from what I understand. I was tired and my neck hurt. I had some really annoying calls, wastes of EMS system resources type things, that usually I just ignore but this weekend really annoyed me. That discussion is for a different post. Happily for the patients, I mostly drove and my partners teched.

As I was leaving for work on Friday, two members of my volunteer squad were arriving to deal with my car. They pulled it off the tree and moved it up to the dooryard. I saw it tonight for the first time; it looks rather worse than it did on the tree. I will take some pictures tomorrow.

I am very lucky in that the people that I work with, paid and volunteer, are very compassionate and supportive. In previous posts I have mentioned how Fire/EMS is very much like family; for the past few days I have been repeatedly touched by the kind words and actions of my friends. Of course, I’ve taken a certain amount of ridicule; that is to be expected. We’re a tough crowd. But I’ve been made to feel like I belong and am cared for. It’s hard to express how that makes me feel.

We celebrated Easter when I got home from work; Rabid hid plastic eggs filled with candy and change and the boys searched for them. Usually we do this outside but today it was snowy.

I guess, considering that I wasn’t hurt and my car was insured, that I’ve had a couple of good days.

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