Rescue Memories- You recognize the dead?

My early rescue calls happened on weekends during school and anytime during summer break.  Drinking was big in the 1970s and it was easy for kids in my high school to get it.  Extrication calls were common.  It’s how I was able to get extrication experience at that young age.  Hearing of a student killed in an accident wasn’t frequent, but it also wasn’t a surprise to hear.

Three accidents I can remember with people I recognized from my high school when they couldn’t find identification on the bodies.  Interestingly two of them involve trees and cars the other a trench collapse.

Cant remember which one was first, doesn’t matter anyway I guess.  It’s a call for a accident with injuries.  On scene the car is on the drivers side, partly bent around a very large diameter tree.  The roof crushed into the passenger compartment.

We were able to access the three girls inside from the rear window, they were clearly crushed and entrapped.  We would not be able to extricate them in time to be resuscitated.  One of the girls I couldn’t recognize due to her facial injuries.  To my surprise the other two didn’t have any injuries to the face and recognized them from school.  I didn’t socialize with them but did know their names.  Back then kids didn’t have identification from school or any kind as I remember.  Maybe a library card.

I told the rescue squad guys that I knew who the two girls were.  They were surprised.  “You recognize the dead?”  They had me report to the state trooper working the accident and relay the information.  Another car crash, another tree, this time head on.  The driver was another student I didn’t spent time with but recognized.  He was hanging out the front window on his side, looked like he was asleep.

Trench collapse, when we arrive people are digging franticly.  The trench walls keep falling in more.  There was a backhoe on scene.  The trench ran parallel to the roadway.  Our lead rescue guy owned the same backhoe.  He cleared everybody out and started working parallel to the trench pulling back all the loose soil that kept falling into the trench.

He dug for several minutes until it was cleared back enough to keep the side from collapsing in.  Then the hand digging began.  Maybe a few more minutes went by before the people in the trench pulled him out.  It was another student from my school.  This time I didn’t have to tell anyone who it was the family was already there.

The first time trench experience watching someone emerge from the earth is indelible.  -13

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