Car Surfing

How numbskulls entertain themselvesAround 9:00 on a Friday evening during my first summer as an emergency responder, Mid-County was toned out for an emergency on a back road so deep in the woods that unless your family has lived in Northumberland County for at least three generations, you won't be able to find it. The dispatch said something about car surfing and an unresponsive male.

Unlike the routine chest-pain-unknown-illness-difficulty-breathing calls, this one was a trauma call involving a motor vehicle and the possibility of blood and gore. Everybody shows up for a call like that, whether they arrive with the squad or in their personal vehicles. It was my first such call. Once more, I had no idea what to expect.

Garfield was in charge of the ambulance. The scene was a bower of gum trees, Virginia pines, greenbriar, and poison ivy, all of which blocked any possibility of natural light reaching the pavement. The scene was illuminated only with emergency lights. The night strobed red, white, and blue from flashers on the arriving rescue vehicles and cop cars scattered across the road.

Bearing a trauma bag, I followed Garfield through a knot of what seemed like 20 or 30 people. I wondered where they came from and how they got there. They were not emergency responders. There were no houses or any other structures nearby. I didn't notice an excess of vehicles at the scene. We asked them to step back and let us through, which they did.

Circled by the crowd, crumpled on the pavement, was a young man. He did not respond to Garfield's prompts, but he was breathing and he had a pulse. A bystander said that the young man had drunk "two beers" and had fallen off the hood of the car, which was moving at only five or ten miles an hour.

Note: "Two beers" is the quintessential response given by anybody who crosses the path of law enforcement and emergency responders following an incident where drinking is suspected. Let this be a lesson to you all: Alcohol is a powerful, powerful substance. I have come to believe that "two beers" can cause more mayhem and death than gunplay, cell-phone use, and idiocy-at-the-wheel combined.

A member of our squad appeared with a backboard, C-collar, and spider straps. Everybody seemed to know what to do except me, but Garfield patiently told me how to assist in logrolling the patient onto the backboard. Beyond the report of "two beers," no one at the scene could provide information that contributed to Garfield's SAMPLE history, but the patient's mother had been contacted and would go directly to the hospital to provide that information. We loaded the unconscious youth onto the stretcher and into the ambulance.