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EMERGENCY Blood Run

One evening while I was working Hilton Head Island, the dispatcher called me and told me that a nurse the hospital on Hilton Head had called and requested a Deputy to make an emergency blood run to Savannah, GA. I was told that the Red Cross would meet me that the Georgia side of the Talmage Bridge with the blood.

I asked the dispatcher if she had verified that this was an emergency and she told me that she had and that the blood was needed in surgery. Savannah was about 40 miles away. I turned on my lights and siren and put my patrol car into the wind.

The roads were good and there was not too much traffic so I averaged about 90 miles an hour getting to the Talmage Bridge. Once there I met a Red Cross car and the driver gave me a box marked 'human blood.'

I headed back to Hilton Head, again averaging around 90 miles an hour. I got to the hospital and pulled up right in front of the emergency door entrance. I ran inside with the package of blood and put it on the nurses desk. I explained this was the emergency blood from Savannah.

The nurse was talking to someone else and just glanced at me and the box and said thank you. I started to leave, but when I got to the door I looked back and found that the box had not moved and the nurse was still just talking to someone else.

I went back to the desk and the nurse acknowledged me. I told her I wanted to make sure she understood that this was the blood needed in surgery. She said she understood. I asked why no one was running it up to surgery. She looked at me kind of funny and told me that the surgery was not scheduled until 6 a.m., it was 11:00 p.m. at this time.

I asked her if she was the one my dispatcher had talked to and she said she was. I asked if my dispatcher had asked if this was an emergency and she said that the dispatcher had. I asked her if she had told my dispatcher that it was an emergency and she said she had.

Now I was getting upset. I asked why she had told my dispatcher it was an emergency if they did not need it for another 7 hours. She said because they wanted to make sure they got it in time for the surgery. I told her that I had driven nearly 100 miles per hour for 80 miles because I was told that it was an emergency. I told her that I had risked my life and the lives of others on the highway because I thought this was a life and death situation. I also informed her that if they had told us when they needed the blood we still would have gone and gotten it but we would not have risked life and limb to do so.

She just said something like; oh, okay.

I returned to service and called my dispatcher and told her that next time the hospital called with an emergency to make sure she found out when the surgery started, so no other officer would risk his life needlessly.

Many people seem to think that the Police drive a hundred miles per hour every time they go to have coffee, so they don't think anything about asking an officer to drive like that when it is not necessary.

Contrary to popular belief, we did not drive like that all the time and it was not fun. It is a very dangerous thing to do. When you are driving 90 to 100 miles per hour you have to drive with your eyes about 3 blocks ahead of you, because it takes that long to react. Anything that happens any closer to you is over by the time you realize it is about to happen.

You can be the best driver in the world, but you can't always anticipate what other drivers or animals will do as you race by. We were willing to risk our lives if it meant we might be able to save someone else's life, but none of us wanted to die needlessly.

Ralph L. Dettwiler
(Former) Sergeant
Beaufort County Sheriff's Department
Beaufort, South Carolina

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