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Help From On High

the violence of a motor vehicle accident still hadn't lost its power to disturb them. They were glad to learn that in this case, despite the evidence of a horrific impact, the trapped victim was still alive.

By that time, the firefighters had the truck well braced with chocks. But the ground was still soggy and slippery. Transporting the patient up the ravine wasn't going to be easy. Suddenly, a call rang out for more people to help stabilize the truck.

Clark, a burly man who stands exactly six feet tall, had one leg over the guardrail on his way to go help before he was quickly (and good-naturedly) rebuffed by Vota. "If you get hurt, who's gonna fly us?" Vota asked, giving Clark a "what were you thinking?" look.

Clark chuckled. "Yeah, I guess it's not such a hot idea," he said. No matter how severe an accident is, first responders often find that a light note has a way of settling the mood. The DHART crew would have to wait for the EMTs in the ravine to haul the victim up to the roadway.

Vota had already gathered the driver's name and vital statistics from the onsite personnel: Mike Newman, age 65, weight 240 pounds. Clark took out a calculator and factored this information into his "weights and balances." With a patient that large, he might need to take the aircraft aloft to reduce its weight by burning off some extra fuel, so they could make the return flight safely. But Clark's calculations indicated they were safe as is.

Steam rose from the roadway as the puddles evaporated under the intense heat of the late-afternoon sun. Sweat poured off the emergency personnel who were struggling to hold the Chevy in place while also digging out the driver.

For Mike, the reality of his situation had

Vota, left, and Rylander, right, loading the I-91 rollover victim into DHART 1.

Rylander ducked underneath the tail extension and swung the bowed clamshell doors down and away from the aircraft. Vota helped him slide out the gurney, its legs snapping into place before its wheels hit the tarmac.

been brought home by the insertion of the IV needle. "The last thing I remember before waking to a sudden sharp prick of a needle was seeing the guardrail race toward me," he says. "I opened my eyes realizing someone was talking to me, as I found myself staring up at my truck on top of me. I don't know how I was thrown out. I don't remember anything."

The difficulty that faced the rescuers was that not only was Mike pinned by the truck, but his left leg was partially wrapped around the rear axle. They feared multiple fractures, as well as the possibility of internal injuries.

A pilot calculating "weights and balances."

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