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Roadtrips have been kinda light the past few months, I went out to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley a couple of weeks ago. I should write about it, but I’ve forgotten most of what I did.

This story happened last summer as I was driving across Nevada in the middle of the night. So far I haven’t been sued, summoned, nor contacted about it at all, and haven’t seen it in the news so I guess things turned out okay.

Around 11:30 PM at night I’m cruising over highway 50 listening to music, not suspecting anything. It’s dark and it’s the middle of nowhere, I don’t think I’ve seen another car on the road in hours. This part of Nevada is amazingly sparse and not much is here. I come over a little rise and corner, all of a sudden there’s a guy standing in the other lane of the highway furiously waving a road flare over his head. The thought that this could be some sort of robbery or shenanigans does cross my mind, but I stop anyway because this dude is in the middle of nowhere.

He immediately tells me that he and his girlfriend wrecked their car. They don’t have cell service, she has some sort of medical condition, and they need to call for an ambulance. I don’t have any cell service either, then I hear and see his girlfriend laying on a blanket on the shoulder of the highway. She’s moaning for somebody to get help, and he’s obviously pretty worked up about it. I don’t see the car, it’s presumably rolled off into a ditch, but I can kind of tell where it went off the road. I don’t know how long they’ve been out there, if they told me I forgot. Immediately panic sets in and I don’t know what to do. Hell, I don’t even know where I’m at or what the closest town is. If I have to go for help, do I go back to the small town of Eureka I just passed through however many miles ago, or continue on to the next town?

With no cell service my maps on my phone are useless. I have my old Garmin StreetPilot running with it’s circa-2006 maps and it gives me latitude/longitude that I guess I could give to somebody, but it still doesn’t really me a good idea of where I’m at. Finally I realized I can search for nearby towns and it tells me Eureka is 6.5 miles away, Ely was 70+ miles still to go. I tell him I’ll go back into town and call 911, but he wants to go with me. The girl has limped over to the truck and he wants to put her in the truck bed. So far he’s not acting like he has any injuries, but she’s complaining she’s in pain from head to toe. I tell them okay and he loads her into the bed of the truck, and he gets in and lays down with her. It’s chilly outside so it’s going to be a cold ride. They have one blanket and I get one of my blankets for them, and off we go.


This happened well before I took the WFR (wilderness first responder) course, so I have no idea what injuries to be aware of and driving them back probably wasn’t a great idea. Panic was still going strong, I have no idea what I’m doing. At least neither one of them are gushing blood, they’re both conscious, have some bruises and scrapes, and able to walk. Nevertheless they didn’t want to be left in the middle of nowhere while waiting for help, it seemed like a reasonable request.


When I first drove through Eureka I actually made a mental note of how nice their fire station is. Despite being a small town (of around 600), it had several bays and looked well kept. On the edge of the town was a highway patrol office. No idea if there’s a hospital. I decide to take them to the fire station because maybe they have people on call inside, and maybe a paramedic. We got there probably 8-10 minutes after I picked them up, and I called 911 on my cell phone from the fire station driveway.

I tell the dispatcher where I’m at and I’ve got a girl who’s been injured and wants an ambulance. They want to know where the wreck was, was it a rollover, and how many people were involved. While I’m on the phone about 5-10 minutes later one of their EMTs arrives in his truck. I think he’s pretty surprised they’re in the bed of my truck and that I brought them here. The girl is agitated about everything, being cold, her legs being cramped up in the truck bed, and doesn’t want the EMT to touch her because she’s in pain. He’s very calm and matter of fact, he tells her something like “I can help you but it’s going to hurt. Just say ‘ow’ when it hurts and don’t try to hit me.”

A few minutes later the sheriff and a couple more EMTs drive up. It turns out their ambulance bay is across the street, so one goes over and brings an ambulance to the driveway. The sheriff asks me to explain what was going on and where the wreck was. The first EMT puts me and the sheriff to work stabilizing the guy’s head while the other two get a gurney out of the ambulance. They get into the back of the truck take over checking over the couple. I hear the guy say he fell asleep while driving and rolled the car. He’s been laying here quietly the whole time and seems to be dozing off after the ambulance arrived. He’d wake up every now and then and ask a question, or people would have to nudge him awake to get an answer.

I hear on the radio they’re trying to decide where to send them. One destination is Elko to the north and the other is Salt Lake City. They’re trying to decide if both will go in the same ambulance, and if they are going to request an airplane or helicopter to fly them out. From what I understood of it they were going to Salt Lake, which is kind of surprising because it’s a couple hundred miles away. They get the girl and guy strapped to backboards and we help load them into the ambulance.


It’s now probably 12:30am-1:30am. The sheriff gets all of my contact information and leaves to go check out the wreck. The first EMT that showed up is chatting with me, he tells me it would’ve been better if I had left them at the accident site, but I did a good job and did what I had to do, and thanked me for bringing them in. I mentioned I was going to take a wilderness first aid course soon to hopefully know what to do. He told me he was going to give me some advice for taking the course: there are a lot of things you just have to do that aren’t in the book, like getting patients out of the back of pickups. He asks where I’m headed, I tell him heading out to Great Basin NP. He tells me to be careful as there are lots of critters on the road at night and to please stop if I feel tired.

Back on the road to Ely, I pass by the accident site and see sheriff’s car on the side of the road with all of its lights on. I stop and look, but there’s not much else I can do. Another patrol car arrives around the same time so I leave. Several miles down the highway I meet another patrol car with its lights and siren on, heading at high speed presumably to the wreck site. I was paranoid that I could be contacted about all this in the future if something went wrong, so I pulled over and jotted over a bunch of notes about what happened before I forgot.

So far that’s been the end of it. I haven’t heard anything about it at all, haven’t seen it mentioned in any local news. I’m curious what ever happened to them.

During my WFR class I ask my instructors about it, who are WEMTs. They said due to all the unknowns the best thing would’ve been to leave them where they were, make them warm, give them a full assessment that we were learning about. Ultimately it was up to me because it was my vehicle, I didn’t have to transport them if I didn’t want to. I certainly thought about this whole experience a lot during the WFR course.

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