BRISTOL, Tenn. - It's a situation you never want to find yourself or your loved ones involved with: a car accident that requires an emergency response. But what goes in to making sure crash victims get the proper care?
"Once units arrive on scene, the paramedics, or EMT's on the engine or ambulance, unit arrives first to assess the patient or patients to identify how severe the injuries may or may not be," says Bristol, Tenn. Fire Department Battalion 1 Chief Tony Castle.
On Wednesday just before 9 a.m, a Ford Mustang crashed through a guardrail at the entrance to the Bristol Dragway on Highway 394 and came to rest against a power pole. The passenger of the car was trapped.
The crews of Battalion 1 had to make the power line wasn't damaged and sending current through the car and then had to figure out how to get the patient from the car. "We'll determine where we need to cut, if we need to remove a roof, if we need to remove doors, if we need to push a dash forward," says Castle. "Normally we would like to have the patient extricated from the vehicle and then to the hospital facility within the hour."
While the paramedics treat the victim, police begin to determine exactly what happened.
Lieutenant Glenn James leads the team of accident investigators for the Bristol Tennessee Police Department.
"We can start doing things as soon as we get on scene," says Glenn. "We'll start talking to officers on scene, [asking] what have you found out so far, what can you tell me?"
Officers start looking at roadway evidence, the vehicles involved, tire marks, and any place there was an impact.
But they're not done there. "A lot of time we'll measure tire marks, from when we find first evidence to where the crash was at," says Glenn. "Measure the distance after impact that vehicles will travel."
"We work backwards on a lot of things. There is a good bit of math involved," Glenn tells News 5. "It's not as hard as it used to be. We used to have a stubby pencil and a pad of paper to work all that out."
Now they use a computer program to crunch the numbers and help them determine things like speed, distance traveled and force of the impact.
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