Most of the time, firefighters go to the emergency. But sometimes, the emergency rushes to them, as it did Saturday night in the form of a van that streaked past the window of a Maryland firehouse before crashing into the structure.
The occupant of the vehicle was seriously injured in the crash at the Bryans Road volunteer fire department on Livingston Road in Charles County.
“We heard a screeching sound,” said Clifford Montgomery, the department’s chief, who was inside the firehouse about 10:30 p.m. when the startling turn of events began.
The screech turned the heads of those in the firehouse to a window, in time for them to see a blue auto, which had been parked outside. After being struck by the van, the blue auto was coming toward them, Montgomery said.
Then, he said, while still looking out the window, he saw “a white streak go by,” as the van seemed to pass in a blur before ramming into the front of the firehouse.
Two emergency medical technicians ran out of the fire station to help the motorist in the crashed van, Montgomery said.
The driver appeared to be seriously injured, Montgomery said, and required hospital treatment. But he could not be taken by the ambulance housed at the fire station, the chief said. The crashed vehicle was directly in its path, preventing the ambulance from exiting.
Rescue personnel from the station accompanied the man to a hospital in another fire company’s ambulance, he said. Montgomery said he has been told that the man’s injuries were not life-threatening and that he was expected to recover.
But it was a night the chief would not soon forget. Although the unusual becomes routine for firefighters, Saturday night’s incident was not the sort of thing that happens often.
“You’re not kidding,” Montgomery said. Referring to the blue auto, he said that “when you happen to look up and see a Ford Taurus hurtling toward you, flying through the air — you wonder what’s going on.”
The incident was so sudden and so far from the everyday that it took the chief a “couple of seconds” to absorb everything and collect his thoughts before taking charge.
He said building inspectors will visit the firehouse on Monday to assess the damage.
It was not immediately clear Sunday why the van had struck the firehouse. However, incidents in which vehicles strike buildings are not uncommon.
On Sunday, for example, a car struck a building in the Germantown area of Montgomery County, damaging a gas meter and causing a leak, county fire and rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said.
He said the incident occurred at the Plum Gar recreation center, near Route 355 and Scenery Drive. Some local streets were closed while firefighters and hazardous materials specialists investigated, he said.