The nightclub crowd had cleared out of the city, all but the stragglers who seem to never leave. The hours between midnight and four go quickly no matter how long you have been working, the radio blows up, fights here, shootings there, drunk people everywhere, and it is our job to put them back together. Or not.
Broadway once housed the mansions of the city's wealthiest people, the captain's of industry that made Providence one of the leading cities on the Northeast corridor, long before the days when it became a pinpoint between Boston and New York. Some of the luster from days gone bye still shines, law offices, eye doctors, a few upscale restaurants and thirty room homes with twelve steps leading into the grand foyer still exist, but the shine of yesteryear is long gone.
"Rescue 5 and Engine 3, respond to Broadway at Almy for a motor vehicle accident. at 0422."
"Rescue 5 responding from Marvin Gardens, treat no transport."
It was a quick trip up the hill, Broadway's quiet time between four and six am left us with a straight shot. Near the top of the hill, wedged into the corner of a church an old Nissan full of people waited. The church was undamaged, the foundation being made of two-ton rock slabs that have been in place since the early 1800's. The car was a tangled wreck, all windows blown out, the passenger compartment was more out of the car than in and the occupants, two on the passenger side that impacted the building directly already dead, the other three quickly dying.
"Rescue 5 to Fire Alarm, we'll need four more rescues, the Special Hazards, another fire company and a Chief Officer, multiple fatalities and trauma."
"Roger Rescue 5."
Sometimes, scene size-up is done in the blink of an eye, and all you need to know is instantly embedded into your mind, and instinct and training takes over. We positioned the rescue in order to allow access to the scene for the incoming companies and got to work. Engine 3 arrived on scene. Four firefighters, all EMT Cardiacs with ALS capabilities and equipment spread out, two to the vehicle to stabilize it, the other two helping with patient assessment. One of the victims had been thrown fifty feet, and lie against the curb, bleeding from the head and unconscious. Another stood next to his vehicle trying to rouse his dead passengers. The third living patient was trapped in the front passenger seat, her head and right arm hanging out of the window opening, her head still attached, her arm barely.
With a million things to do, and not enough hands to do them the best I could do was to direct.
"Rescue 5 to Fire Alarm, establishing EMS sector."
Sirens closed in, coming from all directions as help responded, and I directed our resources the best I could while the personnel already on scene treated the living. One by one the trucks arrived, The Hazards to the car with the hydraulic equipment, Engine 14 treated the girl against the curb, Rescues 6, 3, 1 and 4 arrived in succession, each with a task, and everybody got to work.
During the fifteen minute extrication process, the two living patients were on their way to Rhode Island Hospital's trauma rooms, the medical examiner on his way for the dead, a tow truck stood by and the police closed the road. The pinned victim was given hi-flow 02, two IV's were established, vitals monitored, and bleeding controlled. I rechecked the dead, their injuries were incompatible with life, and covered them with sheets while the firefighters worked to get at least one person out alive. They were young, no more than twenty-five, and I couldn't tell if they were male of female. For some reason that bothered me more than any of the rest.
An hour later there was nothing left but broken glass and a chipped two ton corner stone that held the church stable while life went on and life ended outside its walls.
The girl that was extricated lasted another hour. The driver was treated and released, pending vehicular homicide charges. The girl who was thrown remains in critical condition.
Rescue 5 and all responding companies were back in service before sunrise.
The church was open for Sunday Service an hour later.