In his 1990 novel “Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton had the mathematician Ian Malcolm expound at length about chaos theory, the idea that small changes can cause big ones later on. “A butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, and weather in New York is different,” he famously said.
However, fewer people remember that he said right after that, “Chaos is not just random and unpredictable. … Any sort of complex system where there is confusion and unpredictability, we can find an underlying order.”
Indeed, life often seems to have an unseen hand steering things this way and that. It’s a truth that a San Francisco paramedic discovered in November 2018.
According to KNTV, SFFD Paramedic Angela Castro had a passion for helping people. That desire arose from her own personal experiences.
At the tender age of 5, her own father died in the City by the Bay’s Tenderloin district. His cause of death? A heroin overdose.
Paramedic Angela Castro demonstrating “Stop the Bleed” training to Richmond residents at the District 1 Safety Fair. pic.twitter.com/UnA6lxrtfF
— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT (@SFFDPIO) March 19, 2019
His passing gave her a meaning in life to cling to, a goal of helping others who can’t help themselves. “I wanted to be there for somebody else’s dad,” she said.
That defined her educational goals, and Castro eventually landed a job with the San Francisco Fire Department. Little did she know that she would be there for someone — someone who would turn out to be very close to her.
On Nov. 2, 2018, Castro got an unusual call. “The call came in as an entrapment,” she said.
That hardly described the scene that awaited Castro and the other first responders. A 57-year-old woman named Linda Ruiz had ended up crushed against her home by the weight of an SUV.
The vehicle’s parking brake had failed. As it rolled forward, it struck Castro, crushing her pelvis and pinning her against a wall.
Castro initially thought, “This is going to be bad. I am either going to be holding someone as they die or doing anything I can [to save them].”
Indeed, even Ruiz herself didn’t think she’d make it. Castro recalled, “It was difficult, because she was giving me her last rites. ‘Tell my family this, tell my family that.'”
But the paramedic refused to give up hope and urged the victim to do the same.
For nearly an hour, Castro and her partner labored to stabilize Ruiz while fire crews tried to figure out a way to safely move the vehicle. They succeeded and transferred her to the hospital.
The most shocking part of the whole ordeal came weeks later when Castro got a call from her sister, saying, “Linda, that lady you saved? She’s related to us! She’s family!”
“I went, ‘Oh my God! Stop, just stop. You are kidding me!'”
Ruiz and Castro turned out to be related to one another by marriage, and the two have since grown very close.
“The Division Chief told me I wouldn’t see another call like this for 50 years in San Francisco,” Castro told EMS1. What’s more, she also managed to save a family member, the very reason she began her career in the first place.
“Yeah, I did it,” she said. “Totally. I did.”
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