Today I failed.
I was getting ready for another road trip and was filling my car up when it happened. I heard a "SMACK" and then someone said "Ohhh...accident!" I turned around and not 50 feet away from me were two people lying on the ground with their motorcycles beside them.
My background is ICU nursing. A few years ago I started working in the ER and really loved the chaos that happens there....doing some of the first assessments, figuring out what's going on, etc. In few months before I left I was lobbying to do some ride alongs with some of the paramedics I met because I wanted to be "first on the scene." I know it may sound sick....but I love the adrenaline rush!
So there I was. Two people in an accident just a few feet away. Neither were wearing helmets. One guy was moving and I thought the other one must be dead because he wasn't moving at all. All of the sudden I had a million things running through my head. It went like this.
"I need to do something. There are two patients sitting right there! What should I do? I should call 9-1-1. Wait, there's no 9-1-1- here. Ok, let me grab my first aid kit. Wait, I didn't bring it. Also, what do I have in my first aid kit that will help an unconscious, probably dead person? They shouldn't move. I need a c-collar and backboard. I have neither of these. What should I do? I could take them to the hosptial. Where's a hopsital around here? How do I get to the hospital? How do I get them there without moving them? Is that guy alive? I need to do something, it's my civic responsibility. What should I do???????"
This conversation probably happened within a few seconds.....it felt like forever. As often happens in accidents (especially here it seems) many people started converging upon the scene immediately. I started moving in that direction but paused. Then I noticed that there was an ambulance that happened to be driving along at the time of the accident. I've probably only seen 5 ambulances since I arrived. They did a literal scoop and run and picked these two guys up, threw them in the back of the ambulance and off they went. Then the traffic resumed as normal. It was incredible how fast it happened. At home that road would have been blocked for at least an hour!
Even though it happend quickly though, I still think I had time to do something. But I didn't. I totally froze. Rarely have I felt as much like a failure as a nurse...expecially an ER nurse....as I did today. I mean, this is the stuff we live for! I've literally been jealous of my other nursing friends who have happened upon an accident and were the first to get there. And today I blew it! Couldn't I have at least stabilized the neck....somehow? Wasn't there a big piece of board....somewhere....that I could have used as a backboard? I should have done something!!!
I've gone over it a bunch of times in my head and I'm not sure what exactly I would have done differently. However, this experience did make me think that I need to have some kind of plan for if/when (if you've seen the driving here you would know it's going to be a when) this happens again. I was caught way too off guard today and don't want that to happen again!! Sheesh.