Sunday, September 17, 2006

Not in MY town, you don't!

(I wasn't going to write about this because I was too embarassed about it, but then a friend of mine told me I did the right thing, so I'm good now.)

Anyone familiar with "The World According to Garp", the movie version?
After I had children, I started to feel like the Robin Williams character chasing down the speeding pickup truck and beating it with a bat.
I feel like: "Don't pull this crap in my neighborhood, buddy. I'll chase you down and beat you with whatever I've got!"
... even if all I've got is a cell phone.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Driving home from work one evening last week, I pulled up to an intersection on the edge of town. Traffic was clear except for one SUV coming in from out of town. Since the speed limit along this stretch was 25 mph, I figured I had time to pull in front of this SUV beacuse he'd have to slow down anyway.

So, I did.

As I sped up to 25-30 mph, I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see the SUV riding up fast behind me... but now, he's got his hazard lights flashing.

"You jerk!" I thought. "I'm not speeding up to get out of your way."
And I held up two fingers then five, as if signaling "25"
Two, five. Twenty five.
And I pointed to the speed limit sign as we both passed it.

Flashing hazards and a bumper on my tail was the response I got.

Once we passed several parked cars, the SUV sped up and drove around me.
I rolled down my window and stuck my hand out.

Twenty five, you jerk!

As the vehicle zipped past, the woman in the passenger seat looked over at me with her mouth open and a shocked/sad/stunned look on her face, as if I had just run over a puppy or something.

What did *I* do wrong?

We both approached a Stop Sign just before the residential area.
But, of course, the flashing SUV barely paused and hit the gas.

I reached for my cell phone.
Damn! I don't have the local police programmed into my phone.
Well, if they're in such a hurry, perhaps they'll turn off toward the highway and go away. Maybe that's what they're doing.

Uh. No.
From the distance growing between us, I watched in horror as they continued on through my sleepy little town, through the downtown area with pedestrians and kids on bikes. The SUV rode up on another slow vehicle (hazards a-flashing) and recklessly passed around it on a narrow street packed with parked cars!

I dialed 411 on my cell.
Gimmee the county dispatch office.
I'd like to report a car driving at a high rate of speed.

I couldn't keep up with the SUV. But I could see its flashing hazards from half a mile away.
I did my best to describe the vehicle, where I thought it was headed...

Then I heard the sirens.

And my over-active imagination kicked in...
"I bet they caused an accident back there and they're fleeing the scene!"

Up ahead, an ambulance was headed toward us. The SUV a good 5-6 blocks ahead of me.
Cars pulled over for the ambulance to pass... but the SUV kept on going! KEPT ON GOING!

I was so furious, I began to shake.

By the time the ambulance passed and I pulled back onto the street, I realized that the SUV was gone from my sight.
And there was a fork in the road ahead.
I hoped that when I arrived at that point, I could still see the flashing hazards so I could tell county dispatch which direction to send a deputy.

Then I saw the SUV stopped in a parking lot.

"Wait a minute!" I told the operator. "They're at the fire department. They must have had an emergency!"

"The vehicle is at the fire department now?"


"Did you see anyone go into the fire department?"


"Let me call the fire department and make sure they know someone may be in their parking lot in case they can't get out of their vehicle."

She put me on hold, and I circled back around the block to spy from a parking lot across the road. From there, I could see the woman who had looked at me in horror/sadness now sitting in the driver's seat. But no one was running in nor out of the building.

"Ma'am," said the dispatch operator, "thank you for waiting. That was one of their paramedics responding to call."

Oh crap.
I felt about this big.

"I am so sorry," I said. "I didn't know. I'm so sorry!"

But the dispatcher assured me that it was okay.

Maybe they'd rather take a dozen unnecessary calls from concerned citizens instead of having crazy people driving around unchecked.

But I felt bad about it for days, anyway.

I had tried to call the cops on an EMT.
I'm an idiot.

Last night, I relayed the story to a friend of mine who is an EMT in our town.
She listened intently right up to the point where I repeated what the operator told me "It's one of their paramedics..."
And my friend's eyes grew big.

"They got in trouble for that!" she said.


"They got in trouble for that! They're not supposed to create another emergency while responding to an emergency! A lot of people called and complained about them! And YOU were one of them! Good for you!"

Really? Because I felt really stupid for doing it.
But apparently, I did a good thing.


jaj said...

I agree - the people in the SUV were at fault. In our sleepy little town, anybody responding to an emergency, such as a volunteer firefighter, has a green flashing light on their dashboard. So when we see the green flashing light, we know to let them pass and we know there's a reason for their speed. I think the people in the SUV should have been equipped with something similar.

Roses said...

I agree, jaj. The husband told me that their hazards *were* their emergency signal. Well, how many people know that? Most volunteers I've known have had lights of some sort on their dashboard. I even know that a white cloth flying from the window means an emergency.
But flashing hazards meant nothing to me.

Mrs_Who said...

I would have done the same thing...especially since the time I saw an ambulance turn on its lights, go through a red light, then continue on to McDonald's...where the attendants got out and went in to eat!!!!!

Tink said...

You absolutely did the right thing. Think about how you would have felt if the suv had hit someone and you didn't make the call.

Oddybobo said...

Absolutely, They are not allowed to drive recklessly to respond to an emergency. I'm a firefighter, and we cannot drive that way. We can, however, get a light for our vehicle, so other vehicles know we are rescue and allow us (if they feel like it) to pass.