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Riding the Ambulance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   I'm eating dinner with a few others when the tonesgo off, transforming the EMS building into a giant synthesizer. The TV shows doget that part right. Lights turn on, illuminating the three white monsters thatsleep inside the building. I climb into one behemoth as its engine roars to life.Lights flashing and siren blaring, we pull out of the garage and barge intotraffic, weaving in and out of vehicles. I grab a pair of gloves and prepare forthe unexpected.

I hadn't been riding for long, only a few months. I wasexcited to go out on calls, but there had been nothing serious since I started.So when the tones went off, notifying us of another emergency, I thought, Great,another call that's gonna get us out of the building and halfway down the roaduntil they cancel us. But not this time.

"Two-oh-one to New CityAmbulance, request your response to a 108 at ..."

An auto accident, Ithought. This will be interesting. I was also extremely nervous; the EMT wasdriving fast, so I knew this wasn't good. My worst thoughts were confirmed whenwe arrived. Two cars had t-boned at an intersection and a pickup truck wasembedded in the driver's side door of a smaller car, which was now a tangled messof metal and fiberglass the firefighters had to cut through.

Clutching thestretcher, we quickly moved closer, some firemen helping us. A wave of peopleslowly split to reveal a group extracting a woman in her mid-50s from thedriver's seat. She was conscious, and I learned she hadn't been wearing her seatbelt.

I could only stand back and let the adults on the scene transfer herto the stretcher. Once in place, she was in our care. Swiftly, we moved away fromthe hellish scene and placed her into the ambulance. The medics began their work,checking vitals, inserting an IV, making sure she was stable for the ride to thehospital. Once they assured us everything was alright, we could leave. Withlights and siren on full blast, we pulled away. En route, we kept checking hervital signs to make sure she was okay. She didn't look good.

Everythingwas beginning to affect me, the cars, the commotion of the scene, the woman, andour responsibility to keep her alive. I was running on instinct and training,while at the same time trying to put the whole event into perspective. Why hadn'tshe worn her seat belt? Was the other guy going too fast? Who screwed up? Itdidn't matter; somebody's life was in the balance, and she was counting on us tohelp get her to the hospital.

I never was able to follow up on her. Evenas I write this I wonder what happened after we placed her in the care of theemergency room doctors. Still, I'm affected by that day in one way: I'm scaredevery time I see a car accident, wondering if the occupant of that totaledcompact demolished by a lumbering SUV made it out of the hospital alive. Trustme, I've seen and experienced it - seat belts do save lives.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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