By Peter Antevy, MD & Rachel Sobel – Eight years ago, in a gated South Florida community on a summer afternoon, Jonathan Robbins found himself racing to his first serious pediatric call. He and his crew knew they were responding to an unresponsive 2-year-old drowning victim. This was Robbins’ first month on duty as a paramedic; he’d recently completed paramedic school and the required probationary period at the Coral Springs Fire Department. His adrenaline was surging as he mentally prepared for what was to come.
Eight years later, Jonathan, who is now a Lieutenant, recalls the scene as a blur. “We took the child from the mother’s clutched arms and quickly loaded him in the back of the ambulance.” The engine crew had been on scene to provide extra support and when it was time to go, Robbins, the rookie, was told to drive so the more seasoned providers could tend to the lifeless child.
They want me to drive. I’m not supposed to do that, but this is no time to ask questions, he thought to himself. Back then, getting the child to the hospital was the number one priority and every second mattered.
Robbins started the engine and quickly put the vehicle in drive. As he departed the scene, lights and sirens blaring, the mother and father watched in horror, hoping for the best possible outcome as their son was whisked away. But this would not be the last they would see of the ambulance. To their shock, the sound of the sirens never completely dissipated. Instead, a few minutes later, the sirens became louder, followed by the same ambulance passing their house at a rapid speed.
Robbins was in a state of panic. “I didn’t know how to get out of this gated community,” he painfully recalls. “So I made another turn, and then another, only to reach another dead end. I must have passed the house twice in 5 minutes. The parents were still standing there, and I could see the horror in their eyes.”