Flipping it over, she could see it was an ambulance dispatch order. It read 3:05 p.m.
Before her lay the horrifying evidence of a crash that pulled that one ambulance, along with many more, from all over lower British Columbia to help with one of the biggest mass-casualty accidents in recent history.
Against the backdrop of a broken and blood-spattered tour bus, bloody papers, clothes and glass from blown-out windows littered the ground. Above Gordon, air ambulance helicopters clattered in to pick up the injured. They left just as rapidly, headed for Kamloops, Kelowna and New Westminster. The northbound lanes of the highway served as a makeshift helicopter landing zone, while the southbound side around the bus was a virtual parking lot of ambulances and fire trucks.Volunteer doctors worked with paramedics and local firefighters, triaging the worst injured first and making sure even the walking wounded — and there were many of them — each had a companion or volunteer to sit with them as they waited for help.
All of the passengers and the driver aboard the Vancouver-bound tour bus that rolled on its side 30 kilometres south of Merritt were injured. Some suffered only minor bumps and bruises, but seven were critically injured and another six suffered serious injuries.
The accident triggered an astonishing rescue effort throughout southern B.C. No less than six hospitals treated the injured, three of them halted other services to declare a Code Orange, a “stop what you are doing” message that pauses everything while the hospitals consider how to handle the impending crisis.
Nineteen ambulances from nine communities, as far away as Agassiz and Barriere, flooded into the area. Six air ambulance helicopters — with a seventh on its way before being called off — landed on the hastily closed high mountain highway in order to ferry the worst wounded to waiting emergency rooms.