Well, the first aid class I had last month came in handy this morning on my way to work.
I was driving by Southcenter mall on Tukwila Blvd and there were a smashed car and a small truck on its side at the intersection of Andover Pkwy W, with a guy still in it and no emergency vehicles. My first thought was, gotta get around this somehow to get to work, my second thought was, holy moly, I better get my car pulled over safely and go see what I can do to help! So as I was running to the scene from my car, I made a quick call to advise Valerie I would be delayed getting to work.
I saw one guy get out of the smashed car and he seemed ok though stunned. Male bystanders started running to get the other guy out of the truck that had turned up on its side. As they pried the truck door open, a couple men reached in and slowly pulled out a very stricken-looking older gentleman who was bleeding around the mouth area. I pulled over and grabbed a utility blanket out of my trunk and had the guys carrying the injured guy lay his upper body on it, on the sidewalk, with his head elevated slightly due to all the bleeding from his mouth area.
At the same time, I was calling 911 on my cell phone and telling them the particulars of the location and the nature of the injuries. Since it was a cellphone, the first operator had to switch me to Tukwila, but it 147 done in a matter of seconds. I kept thinking back to my recent first aid training, to think wha0 else I could do. Calling 911 right away was done, the scene was made safe, the guy was made as comfortable as possible, so then I ran to my car to get some paper towels and water to help catch some of the blood and soothe the swollen lip. I didn't have protective gloves, so I told the people to watch out for the blood - we were able to keep clear of it. (note to self - put some latex gloves in car first aid kit!)
The other two people were asking the injured man if he hurt anywhere else, which he didn't seem to be, but he seemed very stunned. So I started talking calmly to him to get him to breath easy and relax some, and I asked if there was someone I could call. He said his wife had just died last month, but he had a brother. So I called the brother and explained to him about the accident and told him Harley appeared mostly ok except the cut up swollen mouth, and of course a totaled truck on its side. The brother took it well, though at first, he exclaimed: "you're talking about Harley?!?" I found it most important to keep my voice very calm and matter of fact in describing what happened. I told the brother Tom that I would call him back to advise which hospital Harley would be taken to, as soon as the ambulance arrived.
The other younger guy who had come out of the first smashed vehicle was pacing back and forth pretty agitated. So I tried talking calmly to him and directed him to take it easy and sit down, as he was also bleeding on the top of his head. He kept saying the other car came out of nowhere, and that it was just crazy. His car looked to be a total loss, as well.
Right away within minutes, there were about 3 police cars on the scene, with officers directing traffic and talking to witnesses. A couple minutes more, two fire trucks arrived and they started working on Harley. Several more minutes passed before the ambulance arrived. I got the information from the paramedics that they would take Harley to Valley Medical. I asked if they wanted the brother's information, which they did. Then I called the brother Tom to give him the hospital information, and then I gave one of the emergency workers my cell phone so that they could give specific instructions to Tom. They put a neck brace on Harley and put him on a board to lift into the ambulance.
At that, I got my blanket off the sidewalk and went on my way to work.
I was so grateful that the two airbags in that truck deployed, otherwise the situation would probably have been much worse. Although I don't feel like I did all that much, at least I feel good that I pulled over and did what I could. If nobody stopped to help, that poor guy would have been trapped a long time in his sideways car, hurt and afraid. I am also grateful for cell phones and the 911 system. And, the police and fire department were there so quickly, taking over from the helping bystanders, just as our instructor Jeff Vollandt had described in our class. He had told us that bystanders quickly responding within those first 5 minutes before the emergency response arrives often makes a huge difference to the well-being of the victim.
So I'm glad I was able to put my first aid training to a little good use today.