A Jackson Volunteer First Aid Squad 22 ambulance (with emergency lights on) was transporting an 87-year old woman trauma patient to a local hospital when it was struck head-on at approximately 11:48 p.m. Saturday June 12, 2010 by a 27 year-old motorcyclist driving a 1992 Harley Davidson.
Fortunately, the ambulance driver was wearing his seat belt, and driving a rig equipped with a front air bag that deployed, and managed to avoid injuries to his on-board patient and crew. The cyclist crossed the double yellow center line on a sloping downhill curved section of North Hope Chapel Road in Jackson, veering into the path of the on-coming ambulance. The 22 year-old driver of the Squad’s ambulance — Shane O’Brien — who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Jackson Mills Volunteer Fire Company Station 54 and son of one of their past chiefs — is credited with preventing further injuries by his calm decision-making keeping the ambulance under control and upright, despite the fact that the force of the impact sheared off the drivers side front wheel and suspension assembly.
The driver of the ambulance and a Squad Cadet riding in the rear of the ambulance were wearing seat-belts and were uninjured. An EMT providing care to the patient in the back of the ambulance suffered a few bumps and bruises but was otherwise unhurt. Immediately after the impact, even though the ambulance’s drivers side door jammed shut, the crew exited their vehicle and began providing aid to the injured motorcyclist. The incident commander was Jackson Vol. Fire Company No.1 Station 55 Chief Michael Fatovic. Initial assistance at the scene was also provided by Jackson Station 55 Assistant Chief Tim Carson, Jackson Township Fire District 3 off-duty career firefighter/EMT Jay Zimmerman, and Jackson First Aid Squad member EMT Sharon Brown — each arriving shortly after call dispatch.
First Aid Squad 22 Captain Al Cuciero also responded to the scene. The original woman patient in the ambulance did not suffer any further injury from the crash, and was transferred to another ambulance to continue her trip to a local hospital. The front airbag did deploy on the 2007 model year ambulance. The operator of the motorcycle suffered severe injuries, and due to weather conditions preventing two med-evac helicopters from flying, was transported via ground to the trauma center at Jersey Shore University Medical Center by another Jackson First Aid Squad ambulance, with paramedics from the MON-OC Hospital Corporation on board.
The motorcycle driver was pronounced dead after arrival at the Medical Center. The Jackson Township Station 55 assisted at the scene, as well as the Jackson Police Department and Quality Medical Care Ambulance Service. The Whitesville Fire Company Station 57 was also dispatched in the event of the need for a helicopter landing zone, however that was canceled. A full news report is available at Asbury Park Press Online.