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article imageWhat happens when the emergency turns into the emergency?

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 31, 2009 in Health
Its a common scene, firetrucks racing to a location as part of the EMS activation system. But what happens when those responding become victims themselves? A collision of over 120,000 pounds of metal reveals a unique situation of its own.
EMS responders have a unique and dangerous job in not only performing life-saving services, but not knowing exactly what awaits them upon arrival. From dogs to enraged relatives, the dangers associated with the call are akin to a game of roulette and the odds, its like playing the numbers. For two responders heading to the same emergency call on Monday morning, the odds paid out.
Two large firetrucks going in different directions, both with sirens blaring and lights flashing collided at an intersection in Houston, Texas injuring eleven people and knocking out power to just under 2,000 customers for a part of the day. The 40,000 pound pumper truck "t-boned" an 80,000 pound ladder truck with enough power to lift if off of the ground and flip it on its side, where it landed on a woman riding her bicycle, caused a electricity pole to snap and finally rested on a car that was also traveling on the road. The crash not only caused structural damage, but posed an electrocution problem as well with some 500 gallons of water leaking from the pumper truck and downed power lines heating things up.
Out of the injuries sustained, nine were the firefighters, four of which were on the pumper truck and five on the ladder truck. All were taken to area hospitals, where seven of the nine were treated and released. Two are still in hospital listed in their respective conditions. The woman driving the car was able to crawl from the crushed front seat into the back seat and exit the vehicle through a rear passenger door.
The worst of all injuries was sustained by the woman, 29-year-old Leigh Boone, who was riding her bicycle to work when the accident happened. She remains in critical condition after undergoing two operations, one to relieve a blood clot causing pressure on her brain.
Investigators at the scene said there were no skid marks and area witnesses in the area said they heard an explosion and felt their homes shake, unofficially confirming the force of the impact.
The investigation is ongoing, with Houston Fire Department District Chief Tommy Dowdy saying that "Whoever has the green light has the right of way. We don’t know who had the green.” There were also concerns over a device mounted to one of the stop lights intended to regulate the signals as emergency vehicles approach and whether or not it played any part in the crash. Although some are calling the original report of emergency a "false alarm," further explanation has shown that the call itself was not intentionally false and according to Capt. Beda Kent in the Chron:
"It was not a prank call," said Capt. Beda Kent. "It was not a false alarm."
Similar crashes have occurred in other cities across the nation where just over a week ago, a crash occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when two firetrucks collided at an intersection, injuring nine firefighters and one civilian. The MSN report states that sources say the call was a false alarm. And just a few months ago, two St. Louis, MO firetrucks met a similar fate as seen on video.
Although not all of those injured have been identified, the following two firefighters who are still in hospital are:
Capt. Michael Mayfield, who has been with the Fire Department for 34 years, was listed in fair condition
Brian Edwards, a 19-year veteran who was driving the pumper, was listed in good condition.
It is often noteworthy when those responding to emergency situations become the victims of emergencies themselves, especially when a pattern seems to emerge from accidents like these. This is believed to be the first time two firetrucks have collided in Houston, Texas.
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