Crashing the Gate


The siren wailed each time the ambulance approached a cross street. He could hear Barney in the back talking to medical control on the two way radio.

“We’re in route with a thirty-eight year old male who appears to have suffered sudden death,” said Barney. He stopped and pressed the head set closer to his ears. “Negative, there appears to be no cause.”

Doc blasted the siren again and grabbed the ambulances microphone and laid it in his lap. Then he thought to him self, “What a rotten time to going onto base-it’s quitting, time there.” Then he pulled the microphone up to his mouth and began to speak “Warren Hospital, this is medic four.”

The radio cracked alive, “This is Warren, go ahead four.”

“This is four,” Doc began, “we are enroute to you with a thirty eight year old male with sudden death, request clearance at front gate. Our ETA is less than five minutes.”

“Thirty eight year old male sudden death, ETA front gate less than five request clearance,” repeated the voice from the radio “Ten-four, Warren Hospital, clear.”

Doc reached over and hung the microphone back in its holder. Three minutes later he flipped on the siren again. He could see the top of Interstate 80 just ahead. Beyond that lay the Front gate to Warren AFB and Doc wanted the gate guards to know they were coming.

Less than a minute later the ambulance passed under the interstate. Doc could see the front gate entrance now. He started to cuss.

“What’s the matter, “Barney asked from the back.

“Looks like the gates blocked,” Doc yelled back over his right shoulder and over the siren.

Barney poked his head through the cubby hole that separated the two airmen. “What?!” he said in alarm.

“It’s blocked,” Doc repeated “Looks like they’ve got K-9’s working a car in the emergency lane.”

“Oh crap,” Barney replied.

He pulled his head out from the cubby hole and re attached his seat belt. Doc immediately pulled the ambulance into the left lane without slowing down. He had made a decision to run the gate.

He picked up the radio and said “Warren Hospital this is Medic Four. The front gate is blocked. Our ETA is less than half a minute. We are code three.” He dropped the microphone in his lap and took a stronger grip on the steering wheel.

The siren was still wailing as the ambulance nose passed beneath the overhang of the gate. Doc could see the guard in the shack ducking back inside and behind the wall. His eyes showed disbelief.

Crash! Crunch! Grind!

Those were the noises made as the siren suddenly stopped in mid cry and the red and blue flashing lights arched white. Doc looked in his mirror and knew that the over hang was too low for his lights and siren and now they were laying in scattered pieces behind him. He turned his attention to getting to the hospital.

Later the following day, Doc was summoned to the commanding officer’s office. He knew that he was in trouble from the moment that he arrived at the hospital and had unloaded his patient into the waiting care of the emergency room Doctors. Doc knocked three times on the Colonel’s door and entered, he closed the door behind himself.

He saluted and announced himself as ordered. He held the salute until the Colonel returned it. Then the Colonel cleared his throat and began I understand you had a split second decision to make yesterday.”

“Yes-sir,” Doc replied

“Why don’t you tell me about it,” the Colonel requested.

Doc complied, trying to not leaving out a single detail. The Colonel stood up when Doc was finished telling his story and walked around to in front of his desk. He stood only a couple feet from Doc. Then he asked the frightened young man, “Would you do anything differently, if it were to happen again today?”

Doc thought for a moment and replied “No sir.”

The Colonel sighed and walked back around his desk “I was afraid of that,” he said.

He sat down and picking up a pen he signed his name to a piece of type written paper.

He looked up at Doc and said, “I am revoking your military driving license by direct order of the Base Commander.”

The Colonel paused momentarily as if choosing his next words carefully, “Son, if it were me in your place I would have done the same thing. However the Base Commander believes you endangered his people by crashing the gate like you did. Let me have that license, now.”

Doc reached back and into his left rear pocket and pulled out his wallet. He removed the license and handed it over to the Colonel.

The Colonel took it as Doc saluted. Once the Colonel returned his salute, Doc was dismissed and he left the same way he entered.

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