Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Accident

 

It's the end of a long day, I'm a thousand miles from home, on a rural Montana road driving not too far over the speed limit. There is nothing around - except - what's that?

The neural net kicks in. Somewhere in the vast emptiness between my ears, the pattern matching algorithm registers a hit, the bell dings, the right leg stomps the middle pedal, the left leg stomps the left pedal, the ABS brakes kick in, the flashers go on and the Subaru stops. In the ditch is a person kneeling, a lump of something potentially sentient, and a badly bent motorcycle, wheels up.

Yep - I'm first on the scene of a motorcycle accident. They aren't hard to recognize, especially if you've seen a whole bunch of them during your motorcycle road racing phase.

Now what the heck do I do? I'm not trained in anything like first aid. The only rule I could remember from high school first aid is 'Remain Calm'. Ok - I'm calm, now what? What's rule number two?  Damn - can't remember.

A quick survey - the victim is breathing, conscious, alert, but with various limbs pointing in non-standard directions. There are no fluid leaks. Presumably she is going to be OK, but she certainly isn't going to move until someone with proper equipment gets on the scene. The victims husband is already calling 911, so that is covered. Just about the time that I'm figuring I'm going to have to actually do something, help arrives. Not the official help from 911, but rather a Pennsylvania tourist-lady, who just happens to be an EMT, a paramedic, an emergency room nurse. Whew.......

The paramedic/tourist (name forgotten) took charge, did basic  analysis, and gave me something useful to do (keep the victim from hurting herself any worse, hold her head and keep her from moving....). The first pass at a diagnosis - one busted arm, one dislocated hip, and no other serious injuries.

Now the motorcycle road racing experience gets relevant. I remember that post-crash, one doesn't feel pain. They tell me that adrenalin from the crash masks the pain - for a while. (In one of my own crashes, I remember arguing with the paramedic about the extent of my injury. He insisted my shoulder was dislocated, I insisted it wasn't. He was right. I couldn't feel it - the adrenalin numbed me.)

Unfortunately for the crash victim, the adrenalin pain mask didn't last long enough. A few minutes later, the pain kicked in. And the victim, in obvious severe pain, did what bikers do - she gritted her teeth and took the pain as it came. She's tough, real tough.

I'm pretty sure that in rural Montana, most or all of the emergency workers are volunteers. The volunteers arrived, some directly from home in their personal vehicles, others with the official ambulance. The first thing they did was a neck brace. Preventing neck/back damage seems to be priority - at least it is if the person is breathing, beating and not leaking too badly. I got the privilege of assisting on the neck brace. Then - with the ditch full of people who know what to do, and the road full of shiny, expensive vehicles with flashing lights, I bailed.

The Pennsylvania tourist-lady? She was cool - on the way back to the cars, she admitted that she did emergency work for the thrill. She lived to help people, and to get a rush doing it.

I wonder if the victim had insurance?

2 comments:

  1. Wow Michael, that's scary! Good thing you remembered the whole "stay calm" part.

    Glad she got taken care of!

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  2. That was about all I remembered. ;)

    ReplyDelete