One night in 1985, RA105 transported a critical patient to West Hills Hospital in Canoga Park. The crew hastily removed the patient from the RA and brought the person into the ER. They were in such a hurry they didn’t lock the RA. The crew that night was Dave Thompson and Marsha Purefoy. Imagine the look on their faces when they went out to replace the gurney and the RA was gone!!
They called Batt. 17 and the LAPD, and then the search was on. Usually, people who steal ambulances only go a short distance and then abandon them. Typically, that’s the way it goes, but not RA105. The knucklehead who had stolen RA105 was finally caught trying to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge employee got the CHP involved and our thieving friend was in jail. Rumor has it that when he got to the bridge, he tried to barter a flashlight to pay for the toll.
Apparently, he had been trading equipment from the ambulance to pay for gas on the way up. This guy was not a member of MENSA. Neither were the gas station guys who accepted this stuff as payment for the gas. That’s probably why they were working the graveyard shift, in a gas station, in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. As the story was told to me by Dave Thompson, the guy who stole the ambulance never got stopped on his way to San Francisco.
Dave flew to San Francisco to recover the RA. He was stopped three times on the way home with the retrieved RA.
THE THEFT THAT NEVER WAS
The shortest reported stolen vehicle story wasn’t even a stolen vehicle.
Misplaced vehicle story is more appropriate. This story was originally published in the August 2001 Battalion 17 News. 183 was Laurie Stolp’s inspector number. This is her call sign. You know, just like Maverick or Goose in Top Gun. And the question she was asking herself was, “Car 183, where are you?”
On this pleasant afternoon in 2001, Laurie, accompanied by one of the FPB secretaries (Yes, I know secretary is not the right title, so get over it), parked her city car in a shopping center parking lot and visited several of the stores in that center. Everything was humming along just fine until she went looking for her car. She performed a diligent search of the area but was unable to locate the vehicle. After the panic attack subsided, she remembered that the next step was to contact OCD and report the car missing.
Battalion 17 and an LAPD unit responded to the report of a stolen city vehicle. Photographs were taken, reports were filled out and Laurie professed her innocence throughout the ordeal. Obviously, according to the story as it was related to the PD, the car had to have been broken into and stolen because she had the keys in her hand. The police officer took the report and gave them a ride back to the Van Nuys FPB office. Two days later, Batt. 17 gets a call from the LAPD about finding the vehicle which had been reported stolen. The officer explained to the chief that they were towing the car to 72’s and that he would stop by to complete the paperwork.
When the tow truck arrives at 72’s, the officer tells how the car was found. Seems as though a merchant in the shopping center noticed a vehicle which appeared to have been abandoned and asked if someone would please come and take a look? Upon arriving at the location, the officer determined that the car was the Fire Department vehicle which had been reported stolen two days earlier. The officer quickly realized that this car probably had not been stolen because of the large amount of personal property which was found undisturbed inside the car.
The car, in fact, had not been stolen. Laurie just forgot where she had parked it.
This next stolen vehicle story is a bit unusual in that it was a heavy apparatus and it was stolen from inside FS39.
One of the local denizens noticed that there was an open door somewhere at FS39. He comes in and notices that there is this big red vehicle, Squad 39, sitting there with no one around.
He managed to get it started and puts it in gear. The front doors were closed but that doesn’t slow this guy down even a little. He just puts it in gear, puts the pedal to the metal, and crashes through the doors and gets out of Dodge as fast as he can. This clown made it to the Sepulveda Basin before he ran it off the road. Aside from the doors being damaged, and a few dents on the vehicle, there was no damage. Oh yeah, it was Gil Maga’s first day as the TFC.
CPR AND SUCH AS THAT
In the 1970’s, it was part of the EMT/Paramedics duties to teach CPR to various organizations. Typically, the RA was put out of service for four hours to accomplish this.
There were several old RA’s that had been converted into CPR vans which included everything, resusciannies, etc., required to teach the class. Each Division had one of these vans. We would pick up the CPR van, leaving the RA there and then take the CPR van to the class location.
Occasionally, the class was cancelled when we got to the location for a variety of reasons. When that happened, the usual procedure was to return the CPR van to where we picked it up, get our RA and put ourselves back in service. One day this very thing happened and Joe and Jesse Ortiz decided that they would like to have their picture taken in front of the San Diego Zoo.
Driving a little faster than usual they made it there and back with the photo. Amazing but true.
Art Sorrentino firstname.lastname@example.org