My husband and I were moving from Arizona to Ohio, back to his hometown. The car was full of everything we owned. There was only enough room for the two of us and a 3ft-by-3ft square space in the back; that spot was for Cinnamon and Tank, my puppy and my kitten.
We stopped at a gas station in New Mexico to refuel and grab a bite to eat. As we got out to pump the gas, we began talking to an older, black man and his wife, who were at the adjoining pump. The couple was headed east, like us, on their way to North Carolina for a vacation. They were riding on a fat, red, Harley motorcycle, with side bins by the rear seat. The motorcycle had a luggage cart in tow, about the width of the bike.
After a brief, cordial conversation with the couple, we said goodbye and wished them “Safe travels.” They drove off and my husband and I went inside the store. Approximately ten minutes later, we left the gas station and continued on our journey, headed east on Interstate 70.
About 15 miles down the road, traffic was slowing and all the cars were merging to the right, outside lane. Shortly after, we came upon the accident. My heart sank.
First, I saw the luggage cart. I saw the motorcycle, in pieces, spread out across the two left lanes. There was someone lying in the middle of the road. I spotted a man, off to the left, attempting to crawl up the embankment.
I quickly pulled off to the right side of the road. Assuming someone had already called 9-1-1, I told my husband, “Quick. Grab the first-aid kit. That motorcycle looks familiar. I need to see if I can help.”
Instinctively, I put on a pair of non-latex gloves and ran towards the man, carefully crossing through the traffic. As I got closer to the scene, I realized the person in the road was his wife; she wasn’t moving.
I went straight to the man to check his injuries first. He was screaming. “Help my wife, please. Help my wife.”
“I will, but you need to stay still, sir. The ambulance is on its way.” I began to assess his injuries.
“Sir, you are bleeding from your head, can you tell me your name?”
“Steven. Please, help my wife.”
“Ok, Steven, where are you injured besides your head?”
“My head is ok but I think my leg is broken.”
“Ok, Steven, please stay still and wait for the paramedics to arrive. I will go check on your wife. What’s her name?”
“Angela. Please help her.”
After assessing that Steven was in no immediate or life-threatening danger, I raced over to check on Angela. I feared the worst. I knelt down beside her and noticed she was breathing.
The front of her helmet was cracked in several places and the eye shield was missing. I could see her face. It was covered in blood. I quickly grabbed a roll of gauze from my bag. I didn’t know where the blood was coming from. I gently applied pressure to her face to soak up the blood without complicating her injuries.
“Angela, can you hear me?”
“MMM…MMM.” she mumbled.
“Angela, I need you to be still. Steven is ok but he may have a broken leg.” “Angela, can you see me?”
“MMM…MMM.” she mumbled again.
“Ok, just try to stay with me. Stay calm. The paramedics are on their way.”
Her nose was broken but most of the blood was coming from her upper lip and her tongue. Her lip was a mangled mess, like a spoonful of lasagna with extra sauce. I cleaned up the blood from her nose. I applied gentle pressure to her upper lip.
“Your nose is broken but your lip is torn. You are bleeding quite a bit so don’t try to talk. Breathe slowly through your nose. Don’t move your tongue but swallow gently, if you need to.”
The paramedics arrived a few minutes later. I gave them what pertinent information I had and stepped back. They placed a C-collar on her immediately and placed a backboard underneath her. Another group of paramedics were putting Steven on a stretcher. As I watched Steven and Angela being loaded, each into a different ambulance, I realized, this is what I was meant to do.
Luckily, I did not have to perform CPR in this situation. Although I was completely prepared to do so, I am glad CPR was not necessary. I have had a few instances in my current job as a dialysis technician where CPR is necessary. When A patient codes, you don’t have time to hesitate. Staying alert and making sure you are current on your CPR certification is vital in the medical field. I have lost a few patients, but not because I wasn’t prepared. They were circumstances beyond my control: heart attacks, blood clots, stroke, etc.
I believe everyone in the medical field, especially emergency medicine, should be affluent in their CPR skills.