the strawberry blond girl in the polka dot dress

I wasn’t asking too much. Really I wasn’t. It had been a pretty quiet day at the station. And I was glad. After all, the basketball championship was just about to start.

You know, that is one of the advantages about being in EMS. Yes, there are times we make some incredibly difficult decisions. Yes, sometimes what we do can make the difference between life and death. But there are times that we can watch a game, a movie, put our feet up……those times are nice. And I was hoping for one of those times right now.

I popped my corn in the microwave and kicked my shoes off. Flicked on the TV just in time. The game was just about to start. As I tossed the first kernal of corn into my mouth the ambulance tones sounded.


I knew the routine as I put my popcorn aside and grabbed for my shoes.

“Multiple victims”, the dispatcher said.

“Police still not on the scene. Possible DOA’s.”

“Fuckin’ great”, I mumbled to myself. “I didn’t want to watch the stupid game anyway.”

Ron, my partner for the day, and I went over what our roles would be at the accident scene as we sped down the road. Unfortunately the accident was far out in the country. That meant two things. First it meant the accident was most likely high speed. That usually turned into worse injuries and a higher chance of mortality. Second, it meant that backup would be further away too. Ron and I had our work cut out for us.

A few minutes later we arrived on the scene. A crossroads in the middle of the country and the cars collided at full speed when they hit the intersection.

The closest car was upside down and about 30 yards off the road and in a field. There was a group of men beside the car trying to lift it up. It was banged up pretty bad for sure, but the soil in the field was soft, and that limited some of the external damage.

The driver of that vehicle came up to me. Obviously shaken, but didn’t look like he was hurt very bad.

“My girlfriend’s daughter is trapped under my car”.

“How old is she”? I asked.


“Shit,” I muttered, and made my way to the car.

Ron had made his way to the other car to check in its occupants. It was about 50 yards down the road and right side up. He checked our the occupants. Two of them.

“They’re both dead!” he yelled at me. “What should I do?”

I was thinking, are they salvagable? Do they have a change? Why was he asking me? I’m wondering about this eleven year old girl.

“I don’t know. Either call for the coroner or work ’em,” I yelled back.

I really didn’t want to be bothered going back and forth between two cars. Especially when I didn’t know yet what I had underneath this one.

By the time I looked back, the guys had rolled the car enough to free up the girl. They were just standing there and looking down.

I walked over to where they were standing. She was face up, with beautiful curly strawberry blond hair. She had on a medium blue dress that was covered in white polka dots. I could almost picture her standing on a hill. You know, the type of commercial where she is eating an ice cream cone in one hand and holding balloons in the other. I could see her irresistible freckles in the sun. The breeze gently plays with her hair. Oh it could be the perfect TV commercial.

But not today. Not for the strawberry blond girl in the polka dot dress.

She really didn’t look too bad.

At first.

Sure, her dress and skin was dirty from being trapped under a car. Gosh even I would have gotten dirty. So no harm there. But I quickly noticed her skin. Bluish pale color. That is bad.

Very bad.

All thoughts of Ron and his two DB’s were not even in my mind. The basketball game had even leaked out of my ears somehow. Now my only concern was this eleven year old girl. How to save her life. How could I ensure that she would be able to open some presents this coming Christmas.

I reached down to feel for her pulse as I watched her breathing. As my hand wrapped around her little wrist it was clear that she had no breathing at all. And no pulse.

Could she be saved? Were her injuries that bad? What could I do? How could I do it with no help?

Fortunately some volunteer firefighters had arrived to help. I don’t know if they had ever performed CPR before, let along on an eleven year old girl. But there were about to receive a crash course.

As I was getting ready to utter the words to them to start CPR on her, I saw some blood coming from the back of her head. I leaned down and wrapped my hands around her curls to the back of her head. Yes, more blood, and….

brain matter

Yes, her brain was actually coming out the back of her head. And now the blood was flowing much more quickly.

“Do you want us to start CPR?” one of the firefighters asked.

I thought for a moment and said, “no. It is too far to the hospital, and her head injury is too severe. There is nothing we can do to save her now.”

I hated to say that. But I had no choice. If we had been close to a hospital, then that would have perhaps been a different story. But we were……what? 30……maybe 45 minutes away?

To tell you the truth, the rest of the call is a blur. Three of the four people in the accident died. Including the eleven year old girl. But how does one cope after such an incident. How do I, and the others on the call push it aside so we can continue to help others?

Two nights after the accident I was sleeping in my bed at home. It was the middle of the night, and I woke up needing to use the restroom.

I do that sometimes.

As I was standing in the bathroom I saw her. She was standing just a few feet from me. Her skin had turned a sick shade of blue………her wounds were worse. Perhaps from there lack of care. The was no life in her eyes, yet I heard her voice as her lips began to move.

“Why did you let me die”.

I didn’t know what to do. What to say. I tried, I tried to talk with her…..but I couldn’t.

“You could have saved me”, she continued. “Why did you let me die? Why?”

Not sure if I was going crazy I called for my wife. Heck, maybe she could explain some things to this young dead girl.

But in a few seconds she was gone. Gone.

I never again saw the strawberry blond girl in the polka dot dress.

But I have thought about her often.

Too often.

the strawberry blond girl in the polka dot dress


Joined May 2009

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