Audio Reveals Tense Moments as Tennessee EMS Crew Pulls Trooper from Crash - News - @

Audio Reveals Tense Moments as Tennessee EMS Crew Pulls Trooper from Crash

Working against the clock and desperately struggling to stay calm.


MATT LAKIN, News Sentinel | | Thursday, March 22, 2012

The officer's voice blares through the static - measured, tense and deathly serious.

"Is the officer out of the car?" a dispatcher asks.

"No, he's not," comes the answer. "We need the Fire Department here now!"

Tenn. Paramedics Honored for Aid to Trooper after Crash

Audio: Radio communication after Sgt. Lowell Russell's cruiser was hit on I-40

Tapes of the E-911 radio traffic after the crash that nearly killed a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper last week tell a story of rescuers quietly working against the clock and desperately struggling to stay calm. Officials made the tapes public Wednesday, a week and a day after Knoxville police officers, a pair of McMinn County emergency medical workers and the trucker whose rig hit him pulled THP Sgt. Lowell Russell from his burning cruiser on Interstate 40. Russell, 39, continues to recover at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where doctors upgraded his condition to serious Wednesday. He suffered a brain injury, second-degree burns, smoke inhalation, and a fractured neck, spine and rib cage in the March 13 wreck.

Family members say Russell's still suffering from a fever but appears to be improving. He uses a keyboard to communicate and has begun physical therapy for his arms and legs, according to updates on a family Facebook page. The E-911 tapes show Russell's rescuers mostly kept their cool as they raced to free him from the cruiser. Russell, a midnight shift supervisor, had turned on his emergency lights and pulled over to the westbound shoulder of I-40 near the Walker Springs Road exit around 2:50 a.m. to finish paperwork when authorities say an out-of-control flatbed tractor-trailer smashed into his cruiser and rammed it across all three lanes into the concrete median wall.

Freddie Leslie, a paramedic for McMinn County's American Medical Response, and partner Kristi Graham drove up on the wreck and began fighting the flames as Russell's cruiser caught fire.

Knoxville Police Department officer Andrew Keith drove up as Leslie emptied a fire extinguisher on the blaze. Keith called for a fire engine and jumped into action.

"This car's going up pretty quick," he says on the tape.

Keith and Eric Dewayne Lewis, the tractor-trailer driver, cut Russell's seat belt and pulled him from the cruiser. The rescue lasted about two minutes from the time Keith arrived to the time he reported Russell being out of the car. About that time, the ammunition in the trooper's trunk began to explode.

"Where's my firetruck?" Keith shouts. "He's got rounds in the car, and they're popping."

"They're en route," a dispatcher says.

Four calls came into E-911 around the same time to report the crash. The calls led to initial confusion about just where on I-40 the crash happened.

"We got a couple different locations," the dispatcher says. "We had them going the wrong way."

KPD officer Andrew Taylor arrived and moved the ambulance to give shelter from the flames until a Knoxville Fire Department crew arrived and put out the fire.

THP officials said Lewis, the driver for FSH Trucking Co. of Orlando, Fla., had fallen asleep when his rig drifted into the shoulder and slammed into Russell's cruiser.

Lewis, 32, remained in jail Wednesday night, charged with aggravated vehicular assault and reckless endangerment.

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Advancement

This is the seventh year of the EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program, jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Glendale Firefighters Suspended for Punching Patient

Excessive force was used on a combative patient.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Vancouver Chemical Fire Causes Major Response

Hazmat incident sends smoke over port neighborhood.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Salt Lake City Firefighters Injured in Firehouse Fire

Nine sent to a hospital with smoke inhalation.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Pennsylvania Paramedic Killed in the Line of Duty

West End Ambulance medic killed at accident scene.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Plane Skids off Runway at LaGuardia Airport

Delta flight stops just short of Flushing Bay
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Rigs Going in Service from EMS Today 2015

Snap shots of some of the vehicles at EMS Today that will be on the streets soon
More >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

More Product Videos >