Monday, February 2

“Because he was the designated driver”

Context: I drive an ambulance as a volunteer. I like driving. I like alcohol. I think the two combined are a mistake (and the extant data support this idea)...

Situation: I’m on call from 6pm to 6am (Saturday night to Sunday Morning). Pager goes off at 3 something AM for a motor vehicle accident (MVA).

I jolt awake to the pager, and begin to get worried when I hear the location – Almost certainly a head-on collision at highway speeds. When we get to the scene fire and rescue is already there and the fire chief directs us to where he wants us to park the rig. He looks pissed. Not worried, or sick to his stomach, or even resigned. Pissed. I’m thinking maybe no head-on but instead someone woke him up for no good reason. Good call on my part...

The scene consists of a car off the road stuck in the snow. No real damage, though if a tree had been there the story would be different. Six VERY drunk individuals (18 to 21 year olds) tell us they are fine and stumble out of the car into the back of the ambulance for evaluation. They are all indeed fine, except they are all intoxicated. The guy who was driving seems to be the most intoxicated. I overhear a very distraught woman (it was her father’s car) tell the police officers that she will be in deep trouble. A police officer asks her why the guy was driving given he seems the most messed up. She says “He was the designated driver”. Officer says “yeah, but he is very intoxicated, so maybe someone else should have been driving”? She says, as if the officer did not hear her the first time, “HE WAS THE DESIGNATED DRIVER”. The officer nods and smiles in mock understanding. Clearly her definition of what it means to be a designated driver was different than mine or the police officer’s.

Note to all playing along at home: The goal is for someone SOBER to drive, not to have someone else take the risk of getting the DWI.

More later.