2 Saint John paramedics rush to help driver who flipped their ambulance

2 Saint John paramedics rush to help driver who flipped their ambulance

Minutes after a car slammed into a Saint John ambulance, flipping the vehicle onto its side, the two paramedics inside were already climbing out to make sure the driver who hit them wasn't hurt. 

"It's important to us to make sure — even though it was the ambulance that was involved in the collision — that they still feel safe," said Brittany Gionet, one of the paramedics.

She and colleague Mackenzie Holmes were responding to a 911 call around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. But while they were driving with lights and sirens on, they were struck by a car at the intersection of Crown and Union streets.

"It was definitely scary at first," Holmes said. "Our adrenalin just kind of kicked in and we tried to get ourselves out of that situation as fast as we could."

Graham Thompson/CBC

The two paramedics said the crash was their first-ever motor vehicle accident. 

The back end of the ambulance was struck as it went through the intersection, "hard enough that we flipped over on our side," Holmes said.

Before they got out of the vehicle, each paramedic made sure the other was OK. 

"I was down toward the pavement when the vehicle fell and Mackenzie was stuck in his seatbelt," Gionet said. 

A tight-knit community 

The two paramedics were forced to call a second ambulance to respond to their initial 911 call. Then, another ambulance responded to the crash at Crown and Union.

"That was my first time being a patient," Gionet said. 

At this point, the paramedics said, many bystanders were on the scene to see what was happening. 

Police and fire trucks also arrived.

"We're all really close in this profession, so it was all familiar faces who were there," she said. "That felt really nice as well."

Both paramedics and the driver who crashed into them, were taken to hospital. There were no serious injuries from the crash.

Caution required

Jim Hennessy, manager of communications for the Saint John Police Force, said the traffic division is still gathering evidence about happened. 

In an email to CBC News, Hennessy said an ambulance doesn't always have the right of way in traffic when responding to a 911 call.

"Lights and sirens give the ambulance the authority to proceed through the intersection but with caution," he said.