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Fallon woman shows heroism at accident scene

JOSH JOHNSON
Nevada Appeal News Service

Pam Giovanetti doesn’t want to be called a hero, but don’t dare call her unresponsive.

The Fallon woman took it upon herself to rush to the aid of strangers in a bizarre ambulance crash Tuesday morning east of Reno.

Giovanetti, a caregiver for the Division of Aging Services, was driving to Reno Tuesday morning for a routine medical test when a semi-truck pulling three trailers began to twist and swerve, she said. One of the trailers caught a guardrail, sending the rig out of control and straddling it across both westbound lanes.

Giovanetti said she was stopped with the rest of traffic, about 40 to 50 cars behind the accident, which was just east of the Lockwood exit.

Suddenly, as a Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority ambulance approached, it was T-boned by another tractor-trailer.

The front and driver’s side of the ambulance was smashed in, along with the front of the semi, she said. The ambulance was crushed and wedged underneath the trailer.

“I started shaking,” Giovanetti said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. What if someone’s hurt?'”

She then heard a scream, which prompted her to get out of the car and run toward the accident scene.

The driver of the truck seemed OK, but the ambulance was a mess. The passenger was dazed, and the driver was bloody with a leg injury, Giovanetti said.

“I told them, ‘You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. Help’s on the way,'” she said.

Giovanetti then heard a hissing sound around the ambulance. Smoke and fire shot up from the driver’s feet. Meanwhile, other motorists stood by and watched.

“It was just like … do it,” she said of her actions. “When I didn’t see anyone go to the ambulance, I took off. I think people are afraid. I think it was just a real big adrenaline rush.”

Fearing an explosion, she grabbed the passenger and eased him out of the ambulance. Another woman, a dental receptionist from Reno, finally came to help, she said.

The driver, stockier than the passenger, was too heavy for her to pull out, Giovanetti said. Another man who witnessed the accident appeared, and they pulled him out together.

When the paramedics were out of the ambulance, Giovanetti searched for equipment to tend their injuries.

“I crawled in the back of the ambulance and started throwing the stuff out,” Giovanetti said.

She grabbed gloves, pillows, a gurney and whatever else looked useful, she said. Minutes later, Care-Flight and other law enforcement arrived.

After the two men were secure, Giovanetti said she helped clear debris from the road before returning to her car. She even made it to her medical appointment, albeit a bit late.

Both paramedics have been released from the hospital and are recovering well, said Stephanie Kruse, a REMSA spokesperson.

“We’re very, very relieved and pleased that they’re doing as well as they are,” Kruse said. “We’re appreciative of all the help received on the scene.”

The day was not without a bit of embarrassment.

After the appointment, she decided to do some shopping in Reno while I-80 was being cleared. She stopped to ask two elderly women for directions, but noticed one staring at her.

Giovanetti realized her shirt was covered in blood, and no one at her appointment mentioned it.

“People were going to think I was an ax murderer,” she said with a chuckle. “I can’t imagine what those two old ladies thought.”