While you were sleeping… I was dragging a dead cow

image Tuesday is normally when I post my riveting investigative journalism feature — at least compared to watching TV static — called The Box. Then again, normally I haven’t spent the early hours of the morning on the scene of a car accident involving a cow. Such was the case this morning at 2 a.m., when my pager went off next to the bed and, five minutes later, I was behind the wheel of a wailing fire engine with a crew of five wondering, Did I hear that call correctly?

Moments later, medics were on scene reporting over the radio that the driver was out of the car with only minor injuries. Though not audible, there was a collective sigh of relief by everyone in the engine. That’s because, in most cases, getting tapped out in the middle of the night for a car accident usually means rolling up on something pretty awful. Particularly in a relatively small town where there’s always chance you’ll be extricating — or placing a tarp over — someone you know. As an emergency responder, you build up coping mechanisms for dealing with the anxiety and adrenaline that occurs when you approach a scene, work the scene and leave the scene. Keeping that in mind, when you find out there’s no loss of human life, the result is like the release of controlled pressure in a steam kettle; it’s immediate and takes a while to simmer down. That’s when a different kind of coping mechanism comes into play: Gallows humor. Continue reading