A Basic Lesson

"Ohhhhhhh we're halfway theeere.... OHHHHHH LIVIN' on a PRAYER!!!!" My voice cracks as I sing at the top of my lungs.

Somewhere a coyote howls.

It's a long drive home from my Cousin's house, but one I'm very familiar with. The traffic is light at this hour, but the roads are slick. It's been raining most of the night.

I'm absolutely exhausted. I can feel my eyes getting heavy, burning, closing...closing...

I shake my head in an attempt to stay awake. I roll the window down a few inches and turn up the radio. "Living On A Prayer" has never sounded so horrible coming out of someone's mouth. I really shouldn't sing. I giggle out loud.

Only ten more miles, I tell myself. Ten more miles.

I find myself staring at the tail lights of the Mustang in front of me. My eyes are getting tired again. I yawn. I'm alone in the car, just me and the music. I take a long sip out of my Diet Pepsi bottle.

Without warning the taillights I've been watching disappear. I'm now seeing the headlights. Without warning the car goes off the road and into the trees of Suburbia State Park.

I slam on my brakes and pull off the side of the road. I put my hazards on and look for my cell phone.

Where in the hell is my cell phone? I can't find it anywhere. I look up ahead at the car, it hit a few trees pretty hard, there's some impressive damage. There's smoke coming from under the hood.

Well, I'm wide awake now.

I look behind me and ahead of me to see if any cars are coming. I grab a pair of gloves from the box in the back seat and cautiously exit the car. There's no movement coming from the car. I can feel my heart racing. I pray that another car stops so they can call 911.

I slowly approach the driver's side of the car. I call out, "Hey... Sir... are you okay?" I'm still fifteen feet away when I hear footsteps approach from behind me. I nearly jump out of my skin. A truck driver has pulled over and is running across the four lane road.

"Jesus Christ you scared the shit out of me, do you have a cell phone?" I laugh nervously.

"I saw the whole thing, already called it in," he grunts. Something tells me he's seen this before. "Let's get him out, the car might go up."

I can't believe this.

We work together to pull the half conscious man out of the driver's side of what was once his absolutely beautiful Ford Mustang. I'm guessing he still has several years of payments left to make.

The driver's eyes open suddenly, "WHOA WHOA... I'm okaaaay. I was taking a nap!" He slurs, swatting at an imaginary insect. His Harvard hooded sweatshirt is covered in blood that is pouring from his nose and the side of his head. He can't be more than 20 years old, and something tells me he has never attended class at Harvard. We set him down on the ground.

"Do you know what happened?" I ask him. I'm kneeling on the side of the road in the gravel.

"Fuck yeah I know. That fucking tree jumped into the road duuude!" He's trying to stand up.

"Hey, sit down, the ambulance will be here soon." I start, "You could have a --"

He cuts me off, "THE AMBULANCE? Did you call the COPS???" In a heartbeat the driver has jumped to his feet. He stumbles a few steps. I stand and put a hand on his arm to steady him.

That's when it happens. He swings at me. His fist misses the side of my face by at least six inches, but I'm shocked regardless. The up-until-now silent Truck Driver springs into action. In one fluid movement he has the patient restrained with an arm bent behind his back.

"Sir, you do NOT hit a woman. Especially if she's trying to HELP your sorry ass. Now SIT DOWN AND SHUT THE HELL UP!"

I'm simultaneously terrified, relieved and extremely grateful. The patient is sitting on the ground whimpering. The Truck Driver stands over him, his arms crossed. I thank him. I thank him again.

"Ma'am, excuse me for saying, but a pretty girl like you has no business stopping in the middle of the night by yourself. Anything could have happened."

I feel a lump form in my throat. He's right. What was I thinking???

The first thing they teach you in Basic school (well, the first thing they teach you after BSI) is something that is drilled in your head for the duration of the course. You may at some point dream about the words...

Scene Safety, Scene Safety, Scene Safety. Is the scene safe?

In my case, obviously it wasn't. And the Truck Driver/Good Samaritan was absolutely right.

I was wrong to stop. I was very lucky that nothing happened to me. I'm extremely lucky. (Yes, I've beaten myself up a fair amount over this in case you couldn't tell.)

I'm in Medic School for the second time now. Maybe it's time to review the basics.

Be safe out there.


Anonymous said...

I would have done the same thing.

Sounds like there was no indication the scene would have become violent.

Don't forget it's always OK to make a swift exit if a scene once safe suddenly takes a turn for the worse.

About two weeks ago, a "difficulty breathing" call did a 180 after we'd placed ourselves on scene. Prior to entering the residence, a man approached from the sidewalk.

He said, "You might not want to go in there. She's barricaded herself inside with her son & she's got a knife."

Given the history @ this residence, there was good reason to believe this man's advice, so we made a hasty exit until the Sheriff arrived.

Carol said...

Always safety first. Always.

Glad there was not untoward results on this one. She Who Rules and Future Cardiologist need you.

Witness said...

Even if a scene IS safe when you approach, things can always change. We have an advantage when we ride with partners- they can watch our backs.

Medic61 said...

How did I never comment on this post!? Anyway, you and I both seem to have a little issue with scene safety...but that makes sense because it's us. :P
Keep safe, Epi. I'd hate for anything to happen to you :(

NannyOgg said...

Finally catching up, my life has been a tad overwhelming, and my internet is being a pain today.

I would have done exactly the same thing you did, you did not know in advance that the circumstances would change.

All that said, I am glad you are ok, and it sounds like he was ok enough to get aggressive.

{{{ HUGS }}}

I wish I could send you some veggies, maybe I'll have to send you a few boxes full of zucchinis soon ^^


Galen said...

Hi epi, first time reader here. As a medic who has stopped at off-duty-middle-of-the-night wrecks before, I highly recommend the Maglite 4-D cell flashlight (you know, the huge aluminum one)
1) It does a great job of illuminating the scene, so you can see the potential hazards before you are on top of them.
2) You can swing/throw it at a threat (while you're de-assing the area) with a fair chance that it will hit hard enough to slow them down.

I keep mine in the floorboard next to the driver seat.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your posts!