Paramedic recalls almost dying in ambulance crash

AMR paramedic Jimmy Miller was transporting a patient when his ambulance was struck twice in a hit-and-run

By EMS1 Staff

JACKSON, Miss. — A paramedic who almost died when his ambulance was struck in a hit-and-run in March 2017 recalled his experience.

The Clarion Ledger reported that AMR paramedic Jimmy Miller and his partner, EMT Rion Watson were transporting a patient when a Jeep struck the ambulance once, and then a second time while trying to flee the scene.

"The vehicle was driving very erratically on the interstate, swerving in behind us and back out. I heard tires squealing and I thought, 'I hope we're out of the way,' and then we got hit," Miller said.

Miller was in the back with the patient at the time of the crash, and Watson could not tell who the moans he heard were coming from.

"When we were initially sliding, I remember thinking, 'Well, this might be it,'" Watson said. "When we stopped and I was okay, I thought (Miller) was probably good, too. Then I called out and I didn’t hear him. Gosh … I don’t even know what I was thinking."

Miller was knocked unconscious and was almost scalped in the incident. 

"I remember the first impact," he said. "I just went flying."

Miller said he only saw red due to the blood in his eyes when he came to.

"All I know was I hurt. All I could see was red. I got my contacts out and wiped my eyes. My patient was strapped in correctly and he was basically just hanging out for lack of a better term," he said. "Then I started hollering for my partner to make sure he was okay."

Watson was pulled out of the window of the ambulance by firefighters, but Miller, who was stuck in the back, was worried about his patient.

"I just wanted to make sure the patient was okay, and I wanted him out of the truck because I knew we weren't going to finish the transport, obviously," Miller said. "I wanted them to get him out first."

Firefighters were unable to unfasten the stretcher the patient was secured to because it could have possibly dropped onto Miller. Responders were also trying to prevent a fire, and when Miller learned that, he climbed out of the ambulance so that his patient could be the priority.

Miller suffered a rare head trauma called an occipital condyle fracture, which is caused by high velocity impact. Only 2-4 percent of people with the injury survive.

"My partner said he was sitting there debating on whether or not to tell me he could see my skull," Miller said. "I was pretty much on autopilot at that point."

Despite his injuries, an AMR supervisor said Miller was giving an ER nurse a status report of the patient, who made it out unharmed, but later died of cancer.

Months went by before Miller was approved for light duty.

"I missed it. I missed working with my partner. I like this job because we're out and about. I'm not a cooped-up-in-an-office type person," he said. "I spent too much time in this office."

Miller was finally allowed to get back out in the field more than a year after the crash.

The paramedic received a Star of Life award as a result of his dedication to the public and traveled to D.C. to be honored alongside other heroic responders.

"The other stories that you heard were absolutely amazing," Miller said. "And I'm sitting here thinking, 'I was just in a wreck.'"

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