BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just after midnight last Friday at Bryant and Ashland in Buffalo, a Rural Metro ambulance was struck by a wrong-way driver.
The driver, 25-year-old Jeremy Parilla fled his vehicle but was taken into custody soon after. He has been charged with driving under the influence.
Three paramedics and a Buffalo firefighter in the ambulance were badly shaken up, but never stopped attending to their very sick passenger. They were transporting an 8-year-old boy who had suffered cardiac arrest. They managed to restore his pulse before attempting to rush him to Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.
Eric Smith was driving the ambulance and was knocked unconscious. He had become wedged under the dash. When he came to, his first thoughts were not about himself.
He says his first actions were, “Me yelling back to my partners if they were okay. They answered me and I told them to get the child out of the ambulance and take him to the hospital.”
Buffalo Police were able to free Smith from the driver’s seat.
Paramedics Blaine Bosworth and Bill Walsh had been tending to the child in the back of the ambulance. They both struck objects and were stunned. Despite head injuries, they kept focusing on the boy.
“I knew that I was bleeding,” said Walsh. “Didn’t know how bad, but I knew we still had a kid in the back of the rig and we needed to get out.”
Bosworth added, “My first priority was the kid, so I started opening the back door and started helping get the kid out of the ambulance.”
Walsh and Bosworth, with the help of the Buffalo firefighter, got the child out of the ambulance and into a police car that rushed the boy to the hospital. He lived for another half hour before his heart gave out.
“I was still able to talk. I was still able to move. Therefore, I was still able to do my job,” said Walsh.
It’s a stressful job that can put stress on the families of paramedics, as well.
“My wife knows it, as well as my kids do,” said Smith. “Sometimes we have to risk ourselves to help others. We try not to put ourselves in that position, but sometimes you’re put in that position where you don’t have a choice.”
Smith came close to losing his life back in April, when a man was trapped in his burning car on the Kensington Expressway. Smith had reached-in to try and free the man, but the gas line suddenly suddenly ignited.
Smith, along with an NFTA officer and other paramedics, could not save the man and they barely managed to save themselves.