26 is the new 18

I spent the better part of the 80’s with a volunteer ambulance. The great thing about volunteer organizations is that they can’t be too picky. I would eventually have a paramedic license, but mostly drove, which  probably indicates my skill at the former.


We had a call in April of 1984 on North US1 in Eau Gallie, involving a VW Bus and a Datsun 280Z. The Z was driven by an 18-year-old, headed north, and the Bus, with a husband and wife, was headed south. The 18-year-old had been drinking, and she crossed the wide, grassy median, to be hit by the VW. The Bus was identical to my parents’. I remember it as the same color, though it probably wasn’t.

We were the third unit on-scene. The girl had been taken from the scene as a code. She never really had a chance, and was probably worked because of her young age. She would die. The husband was on a backboard, being extricated and worked as a code. He would die. The wife was already dead, having been ejected through the passenger-side windshield. She was hanging from a shard of glass by her bra-strap, with a detached foot still in the vehicle (consider the design of a VW Bus, for a moment. Not where you want to be in an accident). We transported her, and later had to return for the foot. It was a long night, with a wee bit of inappropriate humor.

The 18-year-old was a model, working at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront. Drinking age was 21: she had a fake ID. Months after the call, we heard that her parents were suing the hotel for serving her alcohol. 1984 was a long time ago, and it was shocking to think that an establishment could be held liable when a customer willfully breaks the law (this was probably before the first bartender was ever sued for over-serving).  I don’t recall what came of that case, and the hotel may have settled out-of-court. It was the start of something bigger, though. In eight years with that ambulance, I was subpoenaed once. Never went to court. Doubt that would be the case today.

Since then, we’re even more conflicted about when adulthood begins. An 18-year-old can sign a contract, join the military, even get married…but might not be responsible for fake-ID-ing herself into a DUI.

Thirty years later and they don’t even have to buy their own health-insurance! Mom and (perhaps) Dad won’t mind paying a higher rate for the next eight years, right?

You mean that isn‘t free?

2034, imagine what awaits.

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  1. I’ve always wondered at government logic, allowing a lone 16 year old to legally handle two thousand pounds of machinery doing 60+ mph, but forbidding them to have a beer until they’re 21.

    But then, that’s State logic for you.

  2. Drunks get behind the wheel with little thought of the likely consequences of their actions. “It’ll work out ok” must be their mindset. Just another of many public policies enacted over the years with the effect of encouraging dependencies, our lawmakers gave little thought to the likely consequences of ACA. “It’ll work out ok” must’ve been their mindset. Not as dramatic or gory as the aftermath of of a head-on, but a crash nonetheless.

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