Lodged in Traffic asks:
Dear Dr. Cragglehold,
If an ambulance was on its way somewhere to respond to an emergency and it ran a guy over, do you think it would stop to help, or hit and run?
Lodged in Traffic
The miracle of Science is that we don’t need to merely speculate. We can find out for sure with a carefully executed Scientific Experiment!
My experiment began with a nine-one-one call. I calmly informed the operator I had consumed a quart of ‘Smokey Lime’ coloured acrylic paint on a dare and I was worried I’d get it on my expensive shirt if I tried to vomit it up. It was doubtful that such a scenario would be considered life-threatening; a variable I hoped would soften the resolve of the ambulance driver. When the operator requested that I remain on the line I made retching noises and slammed the handset of the rotary phone on the receiver a number of times before hanging up.
Himself responding to the ruckus I was making, Peabody then entered the room to see if I was alright. Assuring him that I was I invited him for a friendly stroll.
Partway to the hospital we happened upon the display window of a clothing store, at which point I paused and consulted my watch. The ambulance was running behind.
Curious about my behaviour, Esquire Peabody asked why we had stopped. In response I produced my clear plastic clipboard and informed him that I had been hoping to perform an experiment on our outing. At that moment the siren of an ambulance plied our ears from the end of the street – it was swerving around rush-hour traffic and careening toward the University at highway speeds!
Looking from the ambulance to myself and finally to the clothing store, Peabody surmised the nature of my experiment and darted into the store. Just as the ambulance was blasting by he tossed a mannequin in a two-piece negligee through the plate-glass window and right under the front tire of the speeding vehicle.
Broken glass and plastic body-parts were thrown willy-nilly about the street and sidewalk. The mannequin was pulverized – quite graphically – and the ambulance driver slammed on the brakes, screeching to a halt.
For a moment nothing happened – the ambulance sat motionless, its ear-splitting siren echoing forcefully from the surrounding buildings. I could see the driver and the passenger arguing heatedly in the cabin. Finally, the vehicle backed up a bit, stopped, pulled forward, backed up some more, and the siren was turned off and on a few times in indecision. One of the two paramedics yelled in a frustrated, although operatic voice, and they opened the doors.
The driver, who appeared to be the more authoritarian of the two, lifted a lace-draped thigh from the ground and showed it to his colleague with a chuckle. Realizing it was a fake leg, the pair appeared relieved.
Satisfied with the success of my experiment I began to write the results on my clear plastic clipboard. Hardly had I finished the first word, however, when an unmarked van came squealing from a nearby alley and plowed directly into the paramedics, sandwiching them between its hood and the back doors of the ambulance!
Exasperated, I ran to help, but I was stopped by Peabody as he stepped from the van.
“What have you done, man!?” I exclaimed.
“I’m helping with the experiment, Doctor,” he responded uncertainly. “Aren’t we trying to figure out if Paramedics can use their healing magic on each other?”
“No, no, no…” I said, shaking my head, which was on my palm. “We’re trying to find out if an ambulance would stop if it hit someone.”
“Oh,” he said. Then, after some thought: “We’d better get out of here.”
From the rooftop of an old chapel a block away Peabody and I observed two further ambulances: one responding to the catastrophe on the street, and one to my initial phony phone call.
As both were accompanied by police cruisers I found myself appreciating the bit of wise foresight that had me make the call from Dr. Buchanan’s phone.
So, in answer to your question, an ambulance would certainly stop and help anyone it ran over on the way to an emergency. Although we may infer from the conflicted nature of our unfortunate subjects that the International Paramedics League needs to more clearly outline its policy for such a contingency.
Also, I have learned to fully brief Esquire Peabody on future experiments, although I must admit that the data his ‘mistake’ seems to have produced is unquestioningly valuable.
Green paint doesn’t taste like limes at all,
Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.