Careless driver plows into ambulance hauling critical patient

The ambulance didn’t look much damaged – but it was carrying a patent who really needed to get to the hospital. Look at what happened to the car that hit it …

The crew from Portland Fire & Rescue’s Engine 9 makes sure this accident doesn’t get any worse than it already is.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was an ordinary run for American Medical Response Medic unit 323 on Monday night, at 9:00 p.m. on September 22. The crew was transporting a critically-ill patient to Providence Medical Center.

That ambulance never made it to the hospital; the patient, eventually did.

“The ambulance was headed north on SE 39th Ave.,” reported eye-witness Butch Strickland. “It was threading its way through traffic, and then the intersection at Powell, with the lights and siren on. But when it got most of the way through the intersection, a car [traveling westbound on SE Powell Ave.] just ran into it.”

From what we learned from others who witnessed the collision, it appeared as if the driver who caused the wreck did have a green light; but didn’t hear the siren – and didn’t notice that all traffic at the intersection had come to a standstill to let the emergency vehicle pass.

Although the ambulance appears to be only slightly damaged, witnesses say the car’s impact pushed it sideways about two feet.

The ambulance didn’t look much the worse for wear; the car’s front end was demolished. “When the car hit the ambulance,” Strickland told us, “it slid the front end of the ambulance about two feet sideways.”

Within minutes, AMR Medic unit 326 was on scene; the patient was transferred and transported to Providence Hospital. Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 9’s crew made sure there weren’t other injuries and cut the power on the car to prevent a possible fire.

“There aren’t any Traffic Division reports available regarding the accident,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesman Officer Greg Pashley. “The intersection was opened to traffic at 10:03 p.m.”

The next time you come to an intersection – and see that the traffic has come to a stop – it’s a good idea to slow down and look for emergency vehicles or a pedestrian, Pashley commented.

Ambulance crew members are debriefed by Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division investigating officers.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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