Mid-County's electric bay doors could be opened manually, so we were able to respond. The fire department in Fairfields was on the road and Callao was standing by. Dispatch was talking to Gifre on the radio, asking if his mother needed assistance. Gifre said she was ok. He told me to be prepared for a house-to-house search and asked me to dig out flashlights and batteries from storage in the patient compartment on the ambulance we were going to take. Before we left, I checked to make sure the backboards, straps, and scoop stretcher were on board.

Gifre climbed into the cab with Herb. I climbed into the back. We slammed the doors and Herb marked us en route with dispatch. The patient compartment of an ambulance offers little visibility to the world outside the box. When you ride back there, you generally have no idea where you're going or where you are during the trip. En route to a call, you busy yourself with preparations for whatever you expect to encounter. I hauled out the trauma equipment bag, the cardiac arrest bag and stacked them on the stretcher. I checked the batteries in the defibrillator, turned on the oxygen tanks, and made sure that splints and triangular bandages were handy.

The ambulance came to a stop after a while. I peered through the porthole between the patient compartment and the cab. All I could see were headlights facing the ambulance, the red-and-blue flash of a police car off to the left, and powerlines on the road ahead. Herb refused to drive the ambulance across the powerlines. Gifre contacted dispatch and asked them to arrange for transport of injuries from the scene to the ambulance by police cars or private vehicle, whatever was available. He asked me to direct traffic, to keep vehicles from crossing the power lines.

Somebody drove up in a private vehicle from the other side of the power lines. I tried to stop the car from crossing the lines, but the driver yelled out the car window that a neighbor had taken his injured wife and he had to get to the hospital. The driver of the car refused Gifre's invitation to ride in the ambulance. He proceeded over the power lines. Nothing happened. Herb maintained it was simple luck that prevented some kind of automotive-electrical disaster and he certainly wouldn't have chanced it.