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We had to extricate a driver from a crash early this morning. Two people, both intoxicated (possibly also meth included) crashed into a tree on a rural road. The passenger was transported by ambulance but it took us over an hour to cut the driver out. As often happens, his feet were trapped under the dashboard. Typically, we can push the dashboard up with hydraulic tools but, in this case, he was pushed into a tree in exactly the wrong spot. We had to winch the car away from the tree and still cut it to bits to get him out. The driver had broken his right femur, tibia, and fibula, and had a concussion and serious chest injuries. The passenger was almost as bad.
Now, for the hidden costs: three fire departments took part with hydraulic tools (Jaws of Life). Two of the responders were from the county seat and are paid, but the other seven were volunteers. Two fully staffed ambulances were on scene from our county; I believe that only people who are not residents of the county get billed for services but ALS ambulance operations are not cheap. There were five LEOs helping (deputies and one trooper), and one medical helicopter. The helicopter is the only piece of the response which will probably be completely paid for. Keep in mind that all of the deputies tied up were unavailable for any other duties, just as was true for the four pieces of fire apparatus, all because someone wanted to drive home after imbibing. We talk about the cost of this stuff all the time but rarely consider the second-order costs.