Tuesday, December 24, 2002

S#*@ Magnet

After a very interesting two weeks in September, I have given myself the dubious nickname of S#*@ Magnet. In those two weeks, I came across three in-progress traffic incidents within mere minutes of them occurring. Ironically, in all three cases, I was either going to or coming from softball games. There were two rollovers and one blazing car fire.

Rollover #1 occurred on Vasco Road, the windy mountain road that takes us from the freeway northbound. The two women in the car that rolled were very, very lucky. They came out barely scratched. I reached into the overturned car to retrieve their wallets and shoes, but that was all I could do. The CHP showed up and kicked all of us out who had stopped to help. Still, it was nice to know that I was able to help a little.

The car fire was an interesting event. I was driving up the 680 freeway, and noticed a car on the side of the road, ablaze. I always carry a fire extinguisher in my car (and I had replaced the one I'd used on that guy's truck a few months ago). So I stopped, whipped out the extinguisher and went at it.

Unfortunately, it was not enough. Three other people also spent their extinguishers, but the car was determined to burn to a crisp. The fire department eventually came and put out the fire.

The two people in the car were visibly and understandably agitated. I asked them how old the car was, and they said it was from 1985. I looked at them, grinned and said "Well, if you're going to go, you may as well go with a bang !" With that one little joke, their stress completely dissipated. It was an amazing transformation. Sure, their car couldn't be saved, but with my help, were able to dry their tears and laugh about it.

Rollover #2 was much more serious. I was heading onto the off-ramp for the softball park when I saw the car on its roof. There were no emergency vehicles on the scene. It was obvious that help was needed. I pulled my car into the shoulder between the off-ramp and the right lane, put my hazards on, and took my medical bag out of the trunk.

When I arrived on the scene, I found out there were two victims. A 40-year-old man, and his 10-year-old son. The boy was absolutely fine. He had a few scratches and that was it; he was being cared for by a bystander. The father was in worse shape.

He was lying on the freeway shoulder, having been pulled out of the demolished car by Good Samaritans. One person, a chiropractor, was already tending to him. I whipped out my notepad and paper and started taking down relevant information vital signs, signs and symptoms, medications, and so on. We assessed him for level of consciousness, took his pulse, checked his pupils. He was complaining of neck pain, and we were careful not to move him.

When the ambulance arrived, I had all the necessary information for both victims. The ambulance attendants took my notes, and then surprisingly, asked me to help them ! I held the father's neck and head straight while they did a secondary exam and put him on the backboard. The whole time, I was talking to him and reassuring him. Here he was, hurt, yet his main concern was his son. I just had to tell him over and over that his son was fine. They both were visibly shaken, but just the presence of all of us who cared enough to stop made a difference.

[see next post]


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