'The strength that Mother Nature had:' Franklin County medics stuck in ambulance during tornado

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) -- When an EF-3 tornado swept through Franklin County Friday, Medic Unit 6 was driving down Route 220.

Medic Unit 1-6 was traveling on Route 220 in Franklin County when an EF-3 tornado swept through the area.

Bryan Ferguson and Billy Akers were in the ambulance when dispatch came over the radio: "Attention all units, be advised we are currently in a tornado warning until 11:00 for this area."

The EMTs saw the sky turn dark, the winds picked up and Ferguson started recording.

"We are right in it," he said in the video.

Ferguson said that the winds picked up and the ambulance started to shake. Tree branches and leaves slammed against the medic unit. The sound of debris drowned out the strong winds and rain.

"Just the strength that Mother Nature had and how quick it was," said Ferguson. "It's amazing, it really is."

Ferguson and Akers had just dropped a patient off in Martinsville and were heading back to Franklin County.

The team pulled over to the side of the road as they drove on the outer-edge of the EF-3 tornado that had just destroyed two homes only miles away.

The impact lasted for seconds, but it was strong. The wind shattered the back windows and debris covered the inside of the ambulance.

The team checked on each other, called dispatch and then got to work. They immediately got out of the ambulance to check on drivers around them.

One of the first things the pair saw was a truck, only feet away, toppled by a tree.

"We looked over the embankment, and I'm just thinking the worst," said Ferguson.

When they walked up to the scene, the man inside that truck had already called 9-1-1.

They helped the driver of the truck and got him to a working ambulance. He walked away with minor injuries. The team continued to triage the scene.

"Right place, right time for us to be right there for him. Wrong place and wrong time for him and his vehicle, but God was looking over us and the people around us," said Ferguson.

Akers told WDBJ7 that a tree had crashed down directly in front of the ambulance. Another tree fell right behind their ambulance. Both paramedics said they were thankful they were still able to do their jobs and help others who needed it.