Monday, June 23, 2008


I saw a photo of a young lady the other day. It was one of her senior photos from high school. She graduated last year. She was quite attractive, blond haired and a cute smile. She had pretty eyes, and if you knew where to look, just the faintest hint of a scar. I knew her thirteen years ago when she attended "pre-kindergarten" with my son, they were in the same class and were friends. I also knew her scar…..

I had just returned home from paramedic school that afternoon. I had been a paramedic for a couple of years, but my fire department decided that I should go back to the "official" paramedic school of the medical control system they were in. So, I was attending UT Southwestern's Paramedic training on the try to stay awake in class program.

With me was a new friend of mine who was attending paramedic school for the first time. He worked for another department around Dallas, and lived close to me east of the metroplex. We had just arrived at my home and were talking. My pager from my volunteer department went off; dispatch said there was a major accident near my home. Since I was closer to the wreck than the station, and since I had a radio in my truck, I went straight to the scene. I took my friend with me.

What we found is still one of the scenes that I can't get out of my mind. A Chevy Suburban had hit a Ford Ranger head on, on a ninety degree curve. The Suburban had been going too fast, its driver was intoxicated and had drifted into the other lane. The ranger had seen it coming and tried to get out of the way. The ranger was struck in the front, and pushed backwards off the road and into the ditch. It had been spun almost 180 degrees.

The driver of the truck was walking around outside, the driver of the car was not moving. All of the windows in the little Ranger pickup had been broken. As I checked out on scene and got out of my truck I could hear the driver moaning. Based on my scene size up, someone had called a neighboring department and sent a rescue truck (we did not have rescue tools).
This was on a farm to market road in the country, but it was full of folks coming home from work in Dallas. My friend reached through the windows and was able to hold the drivers head steady. I sent passersby for rags or towels or anything in their cars for bleeding. I walked around the little truck and could see a broken car seat.

I found the girl in the floorboard, almost unconscious.

I quickly got someone standing around to hold the drivers head, and got my friend on my side to help me with the girl. We were able to reach her, and hold her steady, so I ran back to my truck and got on the radio to order a helicopter. The rescue truck and my department arrived quickly. We got the passenger door open and began getting the girl strapped into the Pedi immobilizer. Her face had hit either the window or the dash. She had a severe cut in her scalp line, her nose was broken, one eye was swollen shut. She couldn't see, her face was smashed and at least one arm was broken. The pain of getting her into the immobilizer brought her around a bit.
I'll never forget that while I was talking to her, trying to let her know we were helping her, hoping for some type of reaction that would let me know she was aware, she groaned and said to me "Please don't let me die".

I bit my lip, and told the biggest lie I had ever told. I promised her she would be just fine. The truth was that I didn't know if she would live.

The ambulance arrived, and a good friend was the paramedic. I jumped in the back with the girl, told him what I was going to do and he left me to check on the driver who we knew had to be the mother. After IV's, bandages and splints, the helicopter arrived. Both mother and daughter were flown on one bird to Dallas. They took the mother to Parkland and the girl to Children's Medical Center.

After the helicopter left, as we were cleaning up the scene, passersby and people living nearby had formed what could almost be described as an angry mob. The driver of the Suburban was still there and according to some of those present, this was not his first time being caught drinking and driving. The group of citizens wanted to beat him. And truth be told I did too.

I went back home after it was over and told my wife and son a little about it. I didn't really realize that my son was listening. My wife asked if I knew the people, and I told her no, that I didn't. She asked for names, and the only one I knew was the girls' name, Katy. My son jumped up and asked if it was Katy from his school, and my heart stopped. I told him I was sure it wasn't, but that was the second biggest lie I told. Somehow what little information I had gotten at the scene added up when he asked and I just knew it was. I had seen the little girl in class, and on the playground, and at parties. It hurt for me to think that she did not look like the same little girl I had just seen.

Two days later I visited Katy in the hospital. Her father was there; her mother was still in the hospital next door. I looked in on her several times in the next few days.

Over the next few months Katy had several surgeries. She healed. As she grew a little older, she had at least one plastic surgery on her face. Her face healed too.

Katy graduated high school as a beautiful young lady, with a near unnoticeable scar on her lip. Her mother cried as she walked across the stage.

Mr Fixit


Bryan said...

I can you not

Tolewyn said...

Excellent story. I can't deny that I would probably been a part of the mob calling for retribution. Thanks for sharing it.


Larry said...

That just makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

Gerald said...

I'm sitting here all teary-eyed. Thanks for sharing.