JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO - A local paramedic is back on the job after an extremely close call on I-55 in Jefferson County.
Rock Township Ambulance District Lt. Nick Salzman was taken to the hospital after a driver struck his ambulance.
“It was a life experience. One I hope not to repeat any time soon,” Salzman said.
The incident happened on southbound I-55, south of Richardson Road, in Jefferson County.
Salzman was on the scene of a previous accident, obtaining information from patients who had declined medical attention.
That’s when his life flashed before his eyes.
“We were about to get them back to their cars, when we heard some brakes lock up, coming down the interstate,” he said. “We turned and looked. And coming sideways at us, was a vehicle, that was coming right at the ambulance.”
Salzman, the other paramedic, and the patients immediately dove into the side entrance of the ambulance.
Salzman struck his head on the ambulance during the process. He was checked out and released from the hospital.
The damage was so great, the ambulance might not return back to service.
Of bigger concern, however, is not the vehicle, but the people who could have been killed.
Rock Township Ambulance District Deputy Chief Andrew West said it appears the other vehicle appears to have been moving at too fast a speed for the weather conditions. That evening, September 7, the St. Louis area was hit with heavy rainfall.
To compound the problem, drivers tend to “rubberneck” at accident scenes, he said.
“It’s human nature. You want to look to see what’s going on if you’re passing an accident. You see an ambulance. You see a firetruck. A police officer. Or even a tow truck,” West said. “Don’t look. I’m sure you can figure out on social media after the fact what took place, but please, just pay attention.”
A firetruck had been parked behind the ambulance to protect those at the scene. Still, the vehicle struck the ambulance.
Salzman said he is grateful to be ok. And is hopeful he can remain a paramedic – and never become a patient.
“Lots of people talk about their life flashing before their eyes. And fortunately, I’m a paramedic. I had a very good idea of what was about to happen to me. I could have been severely injured. And – or – worse.”