Paramedic injured in crash makes a plea to all drivers

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The paramedic who was seriously injured in Sunday’s ambulance crash is still recovering. But he’s making a plea to all drivers before something tragic happens.

Two ambulances were hit in the last couple of weeks. Officials want the public to know that putting emergency responders at risk is dangerous for everyone.

“The next thing I remember is coming to between the foot of the gurney and the backdoor of the ambulance. Of course my first concern was to the patient we were taking care of,” said EMS paramedic Jeff Zuckernick.

He was in the back of the ambulance early Sunday morning when it was hit by a car at an intersection. Police say the driver Michael Kozak, was drunk and ran a red light.

Zuckernick had to get 16 stitches from multiple cuts on his face, and bruises on his right side. Two weeks ago, an ambulance from AMR was struck by another driver.

“So they took a hit here and the whole front went into a light pole there,” said Dr. James Ireland, AMR spokesman.

The two EMT’s inside were also hurt, including the driver who hit them, who they say also ran a red light. Zuckernick points out that these types of incidents endanger the whole community.

“Our only goal is to help you out. Please don’t compromise our ability in helping you out. It’ll hurt people, it’ll kill people,” he said.

Emergency responders want the public to know that they’re usually not buckled up in the back when they’re transporting patients.

“So if someone was here is doing CPR or starting an IV or tending to a patient moving around you, you might not be able to be in one of these safe positions and so the paramedic in the back is vulnerable,” said Dr. Ireland.

“Most times they’re standing and moving around and treating the patient, it is an unsafe environment for them,” said Lorrin Okumura, EMS assistant chief.

They ask all drivers to obey all laws like moving to the side and avoiding tailgating. Zuckernick adds in his case, things could have been tragic.

“He could have hit somebody else, he could have hit a family of four in a small car and the outcomes would have been so much worse than what happened that morning,” he said.

Zuckernick says he’s not sure when he’ll be able to go back to work. The patients in both incidents were not hurt by the crash.

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