Thursday, December 31, 2009


Here's something I wrote about 3 years ago. I was going to post it just before Thanksgiving, but I guess that one incident I wrote about distracted me. Anyway, I feel that since we are embarking on a New Year, and a new Decade, this would be a good time to re-post this true story.

At one time, the City of Los Angeles was short on staffing Paramedic (PM) Rescue Ambulances (RAs). Paramedic Rescue Ambulances (PM RAs) were shut down or downgraded to "Basic" (Non-Paramedic) EMT ambulances on a daily basis. This was one of those days.

I was at my regular Fire Station, waiting for another PM to work with, because we work in pairs. No one was available, so I was sent to another Fire Station to man another RA that also had only one PM. The PM I worked with was someone I knew, and we both worked at the same Fire Station prior to the ones we were at now. We ended up being one of the few PM RAs in the Downtown LA area. The surrounding 3-4 PM RAs were either downgraded, or just shut down.

Not long after getting to the other Fire Station, we received a call from the MacArthur Park area to a traffic accident on Figueroa St near the 101 Fwy. Just before we got there, we were canceled because there were no injuries.

We took a short detour, towards City Hall, and got a call near Vermont Ave. and Pico Blvd. It is far, but we are the closest, since the closest PM RA was downgraded, and others were not available. This area (Pico/Vermont) also happened to be the area we both worked together before, so we knew the area well, exactly where we were going to (Adult board and care) and the fastest route there from 1st St. and Broadway in Downtown LA.

I wasn't driving, and my partner ended up taking Olympic Blvd. instead of Pico Blvd. I thought to myself that I would have taken Pico Blvd, because it would have been a little shorter in distance, so therefore shorter in time too. One block before we get to Vermont Ave. to turn left, a careless driver decided to turn left right in front of us at the street before Vermont Ave. To avoid the impending collision, my partner turns left at that street, right next to, and with the car.

Side note: On that street is an Apartment house, where earlier that day, someone was causing trouble for the occupants. So the same LAPD unit there that morning, decided to come back to check up on them and make sure the trouble makers didn't return. At about the same time, we are turning onto that street.

As we drive down the Street, my partner notices that the Officers are running towards the Apartment building, looking concerned. Just as we get there, my partner notices that a young girl is caught in the automatic wrought iron fence that is opening for the garage area, and is crushing her chest. The two Officers are trying to pull back the gate to try and free her, but are really just keeping it from crushing her even more. We stop, my partner gets the bolt cutters that is in the compartment right behind the driver's door, and heads for the Apartment to cut the mechanism and free the girl.

I get on the radio, ask for a replacement for our original call, get us reassigned to this emergency, and ask for another unit to assist us, just in case we have to do CPR. As I finish and get out of the RA, the girl is carried to me and I place her on our gurney.

I assess her, she is alive but unconscious, and is not breathing on her own. I start to "bag" her and then hand it off to the unit that came to help us. As I check the rest of her vital signs, she starts breathing on her own. We take her to Children's Hospital in LA. Later that day, they told me that the little girl had NO injuries and was sent home. Not one broken bone, nothing! I never saw that little girl again.

There were so many variables in this scenario, that if any one thing happened differently, the outcome could have been different. You can go about 5 mins without breathing before you become brain dead. There was never a 911 call. The LAPD Officers came by at the perfect time. Somehow we were guided to that street and my partner was able to free her right away.

You may or may not believe in a Higher Power, but on that day, we were the puppets and someone was pulling our strings.

I believe in Miracles, some so small you don't even notice them. If you don't, it's okay. But maybe this will make you think twice about it.


LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Thanks for sharing our vocation in such a gifted manner. May your 2010 be one of peace, health and prosperity.

Fraternally Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department


Cheri Adams Goldwater said...

What a nice comment from LAFD Media and PR you received.

Ninja said...

They're biased. ;p