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Paramedic: Crawling into flattened cars just part of job

Posted April 14, 2009
Updated April 15, 2009

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— A paramedic said crawling into a wrecked car with an overturned dump truck on top of it and talking to a trapped woman for more than two hours are just part of the job.

Seeing the trapped woman make it out of the car and to the hospital is the job's reward, the paramedic said.

Paramedic recalls rescuing woman pinned beneath dump truck Paramedic rescues woman pinned by dump truck

Lisa Plunkett, with the Cary EMS service, was one of the first people on the scene at Davis Drive where a 1999 Freightliner dump truck overturned onto a 2007 Honda Civic Monday afternoon.

"It was just amazing. The car didn't even look like a car anymore," Plunkett said.

"I thought there's no way anybody could survive that – no way," Cary EMS Division Chief Christian Heinrich said.

But Chad Benton, 26 had managed to get out of the Civic. Kara Benton, 25, was still pinned inside the car, underneath the dump truck.

EMS worker says crawling into flattened cars is just part of job Web only: Full interview with paramedic

Plunkett crawled into the flattened car and provided care to Kara Benton. The paramedic talked to Holly Springs woman, while rescue crews labored to extricate her.

"We talked about her life. I asked her if she was married, if she had children," Plunkett said. "(I was) just trying to keep her occupied, so she wasn't focusing on her injuries, on her pain or all of the noises that were around her."

After two hours, rescuers pulled Kara Benton out of the car. She was airlifted to WakeMed in Raleigh and was in good condition Tuesday morning.

"It was amazing. It's a miracle," Heinrich said. "We see a lot of bad stuff, and this is one of those great calls where you're just happy there was a good outcome."

"We were all really relieved, because we had worked so hard," Plunkett said.

Chad Benton, of Holly Springs, was treated and released from WakeMed. The dump truck driver, Edmund Theodore Jackson, 52, of New Haven, Conn., wasn't seriously injured.

Troopers charged Jackson with reckless driving. Investigators said they believe he over-corrected after running off the road and crossed the center line.

Plunkett claimed no special credit for her part in the effort to rescue Kara Benton.

"I did what any other paramedic would have done," she said.

But Plunkett said that hearing of wreck victims recovering motivates her as paramedic.

"That's what makes your job worth it," she said.


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  • Shaking My Head In Amusement Apr 15, 2009

    Looking back over all of the comments and re-reading all of the posts. The error was in my misunderstanding your meaning of an AA. I took it as some type of current certificate that was to be held. I know the current standards are through the CEVO3 instruction. I wasn't understanding it as that being an Old School certification that has been phased out by OEMS, I apologize. Now after re-reading I understand what you're saying and I get the equivalent of it as being a DL and a FR or EMT cert. And if that's the case, then yes, that's correct. Sorry for the confusion!

  • RonnieR Apr 15, 2009

    Yep, when we got a modular in the 1980s. OEMS said we couldn't just use vans and station wagons donated by dealers each year,
    so we sold tons and tons of BBQ and had three radiothons in a year instead of just one. Anyway we bought one. ECU had a skid pans down there in Greenville and we could use that. It wasn't required, but it was good idea.

    I think that sometime in the early 1990s, in my LEO capacity EVOC became part of our required training, evry year or two as I recall. I retired soon after so only did one.

  • Shaking My Head In Amusement Apr 15, 2009

    I see what I said about "just a DL" was taken out of context. What I meant by that was this. To drive an ambulance it's not like having a special Class II or anything or that nature... unless you're talking about one of Duke LifeFlight's of WakeMed's Critical Care ambulances which are bigger and have air brakes and the whole 9 yards.

    You obviously have to have some level of certification IE: FR, MR, EMT-B, EMT-I, EMT-P, etc... otherwise, what need would you have to be behind that wheel? (Other than being a mechanic, supervisor,whatever.)

  • oldfirehorse Apr 15, 2009

    "Ok it sounds like there are some well worn old timers on here...." - impatientgirl ---- If any of that is directed at me, then, you are partly correct. Yes, I paid my dues, and I helped develop both paramedic and first responder programs in this state. I appreciate and respect all emergency responders, as I know first hand what it takes. I was also a firefighter, leo, and 911 supervisor. I don't think anyone on here intended to disrespect you, or your profession. I don't think dismissing an "old timer" who has many years of experience is nice, and seems a bit thin-skinned. And yes, there's always change, but if you look at the history of EMS in NC you will notice not a great deal of the fundamental structure or standards have changed. Anyway, kudos to all the emergency professions that continue to do good work everyday, and in the most difficult situations!

  • housemanagercary Apr 15, 2009

    That's it. You can have a first responder type vehicle that isn't outfitted with regulated equipment and have a first responder driving it as well. A lot of rural areas operate like that, just to get someone on scene to stabilize until an EMT can get there, and that saves a lot of lives, but those non-transport vehicles aren't ambulances and they don't have the same equipment onboard.

  • Shaking My Head In Amusement Apr 15, 2009

    I'll look at a meat wagon next time I see one and see whose inspection sticker is on the lower right windshield.

    In the Lower Right corner of the windshield you'll see a sticker similar to that of the NC State Inspection stickers on the Lower Left that is punched with a Month/Year and signed by an inspector. At inspection time an Inspection Team comes and Inspects the trucks to make sure it has what is mandated by the NCOEMS on it..right down to a bedpan & urinal. DOI says that each person who operates an Emergency Vehicle must take an EVO course.(Or the make the Ins fees for that Service/City/County outrageously high.) The course consists of a classrom portion with some short videos and a 50 question test. Then there's a driving portion... which I think should be self explanatory.

  • RonnieR Apr 15, 2009

    Thanks, I thought that was the answer. I realize that various EMS Squads and Rescue Squads can make requirements for their vehicles that are higher than OEMS requirements, they just can't go below them.

  • housemanagercary Apr 15, 2009

    Yes of course you meant on a call. I was referring to what county or what EMS system. If you want to know about the legality of a specific area you need to check with that specific area. In most areas, the answer is going to be proper certification and not a DL. I don't know of any areas in mid NC where you can drive an ambulance with just a DL. Visit http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/EMS/ems.htm or http://www.wakegov.com/ems/default.htm for more info or contact your local system.

  • RonnieR Apr 15, 2009

    Talking about OEMS standards, not local ones.

  • RonnieR Apr 15, 2009

    On a call, I know just a mechanic with a DL can drive it to test his repairs.