Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

March 3, 2013

“A-1 AMBULANCE SERVICE” BY: NEAL MURPHY

ambulance1

Author on left,
fellow employee on right”….

 

 

The ringing of the emergency telephone awoke me from a deep sleep.  It was very early in a spring morning in 1956 as I jumped out of my bunk bed and put on my white coveralls.  Someone was in need of an ambulance in the city of Waco, Texas at 2:35 in the morning.

I was in my junior year at Baylor University and had taken a job with the only emergency ambulance service in Waco.  It was an exciting job for a 20-year-old young man, but the atmosphere was not conducive to studying my courses.  The salary of $110 per month seemed very good at the time as it helped with my living expenses.  The job was somewhat confining as I had to be at the ambulance station at 2317 Washington Avenue whenever I was not in classes. My social life took a severe hit with this schedule.

The service was owned by A. D. Sherrill of Waco, who, along with his son, Buzzy, ran an efficient organization.  Mr. Sherrill insisted that the telephone be answered no later that the second ring, even during the middle of the night.  Mr. Sherrill owned two 1953 Chevrolet panel trucks which had been converted into ambulances, which we referred to as “hot shots”.  He also owned two 1955 Pontiac long ambulances which we used as transfer vehicles on non-emergency calls.   All the vehicles were equipped with Motorola two-way radios, which was a distinct advantage over the Connally Funeral Home who owned and operated one emergency ambulance not so equipped.

The ambulance driver looked over at me and said, “Let’s go.  We have an overdose victim at a motel.”  I jumped into the passenger side of the white ambulance as the driver started the engine and turned on the red lights.  Washington Avenue was still alive with vehicles even at this early hour.  The sound of the siren and the reflection of the red lights around me always was an adrenalin rush.

We arrived at the motel and carried the cot to a room where we were met by an older man wearing a bathrobe.  I noted a younger woman lying still on the bed, dressed in a night-gown.  The man was holding a bottle in his hand.  As we directed our attention to the young blonde on the bed, the driver asked, “What did she OD on?”  The man pointed to the bottle which we noted to be rubbing alcohol.  “She drank about a half-inch of this stuff, and then she just passed out.”  We tried to awaken her but without success.  “Let’s get her loaded and to the hospital as fast as we can”, the driver said.

This event happened in the days before patients were stabilized before transport as done by EMT’s and paramedics now.  In fact, we knew very little about administering first aid. The “load and leave” method was used, or some referred to it as “scoop and run” method was all that we were trained to do.

After loading her into the ambulance I got in the back with her and sat on the small fold-down chair.  I tried to find a pulse.  I checked her wrist, her carotid artery, and finally her chest.  There was no pulse or breathing that I could detect.  “This girl is dead”, I yelled to the driver.  “Step it up!”  Just in case I was wrong, I put an oxygen mask over her nose and turned it on.  The driver radioed the station to call Hillcrest hospital to advise them that we were on our way with a possible DOA (dead on arrival) patient.

The doctors at the hospital pronounced her dead and they began drawing blood from her arm.  A doctor made the comment, “that small amount of alcohol won’t kill anyone.”  At this point, our job done, we put clean sheets on the cot and went back to the station.

The following afternoon a couple of detectives from the Waco police department arrived wanting more information on the man who had been with her.  Unfortunately, we were in such a rush to get the patient to the hospital neither of us had stopped to get his name, address, and telephone number.  Mr. Sherrill commented to them, “Well, our guys are not police officers.  We don’t investigate, we transport.”

ambulance2

” Shows
A.D.Sherrill and son picking up a young man who had been struck by a
car” …….

By June 1, 1956, I had returned to San Augustine for the summer and started working at Wyman Roberts Funeral home. I never heard anything else about the “older man and young lady” case in Waco.  For the record, Mr. Sherrill sold his A-1 Ambulance service to the Daniel EMS of Hillsboro in 1982.  He died in 1985, and his son, Buzzy Sherrill died in 2007.  All that is left of the A-1 Ambulance Service of Waco are memories, some good, and some not so good.

+++++++++

“A-1 AMBULANCE SERVICE”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

PO BOX 511

107 HEMLOCK STREET

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972

936-275-9033

Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

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