They’d just finished flipping their “Medic Burgers” and were topping them with lettuce, tomato, cheese and fried eggs when they heard it: screeching brakes followed by the unmistakable sound of metal crashing into metal.
The four members of the Sedgwick County EMS team who were competing in Saturday’s ICT Burger Battle, which was set up in the parking garage near the former Gander Mountain building, immediately did what they were trained to do.
They threw down their spatulas and dramatically jumped the parking garage wall and ran toward the sound.
It was a pretty wild scene, said Ashley Ruckman, who organizes the annual ICT Burger Battle fundraiser for KETCH.
“They ran to help before any of us even registered what was happening,” she said.
The four medics – Capt. Kyle Burtch, Capt. Scott McBride, Lt. Israel Machado and EMT Kari Thimesch – had agreed to participate in the “First Responders” category at the annual festival, which also attracts restaurants who want to complete for the title of best burger maker in town.
At the last minute, organizers had moved the event inside the WaterWalk parking garage because of the weather, and in fact, it did pour just as the competition started.
Everything was going as planned until the accident, which involved a car and a truck crashing into each other at the corner of Main and Kellogg – which just happened to be right behind where the medics’ booth was set up.
When they saw what had happened, all four grabbed their bags – which they had with them on site – and jumped the parking garage wall. They ran toward the accident and helped clear people away while they checked the vital signs of the people in the vehicles. The four medics stayed with the patients until first responders and firefighters arrived. (Machado said that they never heard a follow-up on the patients’ conditions but that all were conscious when they left in ambulances.)
After the patients had been taken away, the four medics jumped the wall again and went back to work at the Burger Battle, where friends and spouses had filled in while they were gone.
Machado said that medics are trained to always be ready, and they were that day, too, even when their attention was focused on making the best beef and chorizo burgers they could make.
“This is not a clock-in, clock-out type of job,” he said. “We are always ready to serve the community.”
The four medics did end up winning the trophy in their category. Their burger was good, but they also were the only first responders who showed up to compete, said Ruckman.
But they win the unofficial hero award, hands down, she said.
“Lots of people were talking about it.”