Thursday, September 6, 2012

3rd and Broadway

Not to freak you out, if you live or work there, but 3rd and Broadway in Downtown, Los Angeles has a lot of memories for me.  I don’t know how many people are lucky enough to go through an intersection filled with so much infamy that it stands out in their minds.
There are many ways to get out of downtown.  My favorite is to head south to 3rd Street and head towards the 110 freeway.  The street rises upward as you pass through the last of the downtown homeless encampments; it then curves before Broadway.  
I was on my way to a 187; that’s the code for murder.  I was well on my way to getting there in a timely manner.  I had been thinking about this particular intersection because I had worked a suicide there a few weeks prior.  
I came to a stop, three cars back, and one lane over from the left.  At that point, 3rd becomes a one-way street.  For a brief moment, I looked away.  However, in my peripheral vision, I saw a body flying through the air, rotating like a helicopter blade and coming in for a landing rather abruptly.  I’m thinking, ‘Okay, this is a case of another jumper.’
We’re in the middle of rush hour traffic.  I’m wearing my badge in plain sight, and driving a vehicle with the City logo emblazoned on the doors.  I realize I’m in the position of being the first responder on the scene.  I make my way around the cars in front of me, holding my badge out the window that displays the brass side, and parking my truck so the victim on the ground doesn’t get run over.  Some drivers appeared really irritated.  There were, however, good citizens who came out of the crowd and assisted me in directing the traffic.  
Although I allowed my EMT license to lapse, I would never forget the basic assessment skills drilled into me by a no-nonsense nurse and a bunch of grouchy firemen.  The man was on his back, intact, and breathing normally.  I could see a pulse in his carotid artery (that would be the neck vessel).  I knew if he had a broken neck, but was lying on his back still breathing, the best thing to do would be to leave him alone until help arrived.  No one answered my radio call, so I called 911.  I heard a siren about two minutes later.  Obviously, this was before cutbacks.  

A woman came over sobbing, explaining that she never saw him.  It became apparent that the victim had been hit by a car.  I only witnessed the tail end of the incident as he was thrown into the air like a rag doll.
After Central Traffic arrived and asked a few questions, I learned that the man had been running across the intersection to catch a bus.  He entered the intersection before the light turned green.  As a car crossed during a yellow light, he literally ran into the oncoming car.  I was delayed by only 15 minutes, and told the detective at the scene that I was sorry about that.  He didn’t seem worried.  With empathy, he asked me what happened.  I must have looked a bit flustered.  So, I began with, “A funny thing happened to me on the way…”
            When it comes to memories, Los Angeles is becoming a little too crowded for me.  It has become nearly impossible to block out the bad ones, but like everyone else, I strive to keep focus on the good.


  1. In 1973, I used to drive on Third Street to 101 freeway to get to Cal State L.A. Probably 187 happened around me more than I can imagine. Thank goodness it never happened right in front of me. Yes, we need to focus on good part of L.A.

    I appreciate anyone who can act at the time of crisis!

    1. Thank you! It is one of the things I have reflected on so much. Do we concentrate on good or bad no matter what happens.