Downed power linesIn point of fact and protocol, driving over power lines is verbotten in emergency responses. You don't proceed until the power company arrives, de-energizes the lines, makes sure nobody's private standby generator is pumping power into the line and energizing it anyway, and moves the lines off the road.

If you ever have the opportunity to deal with power lines by driving over them or moving them... Well, it's just a terrible idea. Are you in such a hurry that the risk of electrocution is a viable alternative?

When our patients began to arrive, everything happened at once. Another Mid-County ambulance drove up. Other Mid-County members showed up in private vehicles, joining Gifre, Herb, and me with strong hands, strong backs, and strong experience. Somebody got loaded onto the stretcher. Somebody else said she was hurt, but couldn't explain in what way. Somebody handed me a child. I took him into the lighted ambulance and sat down on a bench, where a young woman and man were already seated, talking to Garfield, who was attending to a patient on the stretcher. The child looked sleepy. Garfield told me to keep him awake. I checked for injuries, but saw only a bloody laceration on his forehead. Nevertheless, every time I moved, he cried out. As he did so, Garfield said "good" and commented that as long as he was crying, he was ok. He said if the only way I could keep him awake was to move now and then, to go ahead and do that, even if it hurt the little boy.

We left with five patients and two attendants in the crowded patient compartment. I don't know who was driving, but somebody's family member was riding up in the cab with the driver. Gifre was replaced by Garfield, who was now in charge of the ambulance.

On the way to the little hospital in Kilmarnock, our patients related the story. Hard rain, harder than they'd ever witnessed before. Strong wind, stronger than anybody's experience. Somebody's mother gathered up her children onto her bed. The back wall blew out of the mobile home and the roof sagged into the bedroom. The bed was sucked out through the hole where the wall had stood, with mother and children aboard. The mattress flipped over and tossed everybody into the woods outside. The child in my arms was one of the passengers on the mattress.