I can't remember anything. The older I get, the worse it is. And I have been a terrible journal keeper, so I thought, until my Marine gets going and gives me weekly updates for Monday's, I wanted to start a little memory piece and start journaling some of the things of my life, however trivial, just so I could get them down before I forget them all.
Today sparked a memory that I have everytime I travel from Salt Lake to southern Utah. I have been doing this jaunt for several years now. The first couple was every month. The last few have been every other month. At any rate, I have done it multiple times, and many times feel like I could do it in my sleep. Sad huh? It is approximately 300 miles or so from SL to St George, so it takes about 4.5 hours or so. Sometimes, if I can't get a training room booked in St George, I'll do my training sessions in Cedar City. Such as this week.
Several years ago, I was doing the same trip. Summertime. Mid-day. Going to Cedar City. I had just come through Fillmore, and had passed the sign to Meadow when as I crested a small rise in the highway, I noticed a huge cloud dust ahead. I slowed down and noticed a couple of cars pulled off the side of the road. As I continued slowing I saw the cause of the dust cloud. A small pickup truck had encountered some problem and it was clear that it had rolled a couple of times based on the damage. There were only two people on the scene.
I pulled the car over, jumped out and was grabbing my cell phone. As I ran to the truck, I was greeted by a man and wife. The wife was a nurse, the husband was a minister for a christian church in California. The other person was a woman on her cell phone already calling 911.
I put my phone in my pocket and started running to the truck. As I looked in and assessed the scene, I was a little unprepared for what I found.
Slumped over the drivers seat was a man with some profuse bleeding from his head. He was motionless and unconscious so my immediate assessment was that he was dead. My thought? I can't help him now. The nurse and someone else was running to that side of the truck and were going to see what they could for him.
I turned my attention to the crying I heard from the passenger side of the truck. A young boy was conscious, alert and crying in severe pain. A couple of men, who had by now stopped, helped me lift him out of the truck and gingerly carry him to the side of the road and lay him down. I gently arranged his body and limbs in ways that did not create more pain and then glanced up to see who was going to help me with this young boy.
No one. They had all set him on the ground, left him with me and ran back to the truck to assist the driver.
Okay, then. I am on my own with this one. I did a quick overall assessment. He was coherent. Could tell me his name, his dad's name, where they were from, how old he was, where they were going and even enough detail to tell me what happened. They had a tire blow, he felt the truck start to rattle and shake and his dad warned him to hang on, they were going to roll.
It was a two seater truck so all their stuff was in the bed in the back. It was now strewn all over the highway. I talked to him, calmed him down. Assured him that he was going to be fine. I told him that his Dad was hurt, but that many people were helping him and that he was going to be fine.
The minister came over after what felt like a million minutes and discreetly told me that Dad had regained consciousness, had some severe head wounds, but was likely going to be okay. I passed that information on the young boy.
His right leg was clearly broken and that was the cause of the majority of his pain. Combined with the shock that his body was going into, and it became tricky keeping him calm. I wiped his brow, got some cold water to help keep him cool while laying on the hot pavement.
The lady that was initially on the cell phone came running up to report that help was on it's way. And then she turned into a chicken with it's head cut off! OH.MY.GOSH. She was freaking out, and crying, and running around, and saying all kinds of scary things. I finally had to get her away from the boy. I sent her to her car to find something to shade him with from the sun. As long as I kept finding a task for her to do, it was better for all of us.
Since this is in rural Utah, it can take a while for qualified medical assistance to get there. At one point, a guy approached and introduced himself as someone who just finished his EMT training but hadn't taken the test yet. He ran back to his truck and came up with this box of gear. For a minute I felt like maybe we had some real help here. I was wrong. After watching him fumble around and scare the kid with his comments and hurt him with his jostling around, I finally asked the "EMT" if he could maybe go help the dad. The boy was stable, he just needed a mom to stay with him until he could get to the hospital.
I chatted the boy up some more, asking questions to keep him alert and talking. And hopefully to try and get his mind off his pain. I wouldn't let anyone else touch him. Instead, I kept his brow cool with water, shaded out of the sun and removed his shoes since his legs and feet were swelling. Other than that, I just kept him still, and with one hand stroked his cheek and forehead. With the other, I told him to squeeze my hand every time it hurt. I also gave him permission to yell if it hurt and if he wanted to say a cuss word or two, it would be our secret.
After what felt like an hour (I'm sure it wasn't), an ambulance appeared, but of course, Dad was in much worse shape, and they only had room for one, so Dad was transported while we waited for a second ambulance. There were now qualified medical personnel on the scene with the right supplies to do what I had already been trying. I asked them if I needed to get out of their way. The EMT looked at me, looked at the boy who was shaking his head, and instead told me to stay where I was, continue keeping him calm and holding his hand and they would work around me.
They splinted his leg, did some other assessments that included jostling him around some more. The whole time, my cute friend just squeezed my hand.
At last the second ambulance arrived and the prepared him for transport. He clung to my hand while they loaded him on the board and all the way to the back door of the bus. That is when I let go, reminded him that he was going to be okay. His Mom would be there at the hospital for him and that these people would be extra nice to him.
The doors closed, and I felt someone press some alchol wipes into my hands. I looked down to see my hands covered in blood. I knew the little boy had been bleeding. He was banged up and was bleeding from various places but none of it bad enough to warrant much of my attention. I didn't realize that my hands were covered. I cleaned up. The crews thanked me. I stumbled my way back to my company car.
I got in the car, still wiping the blood from my hands. Looked down at my jeans and saw that they were also stained with blood. Ruined.
I put the car in drive and started back on my way to Cedar City. I made it about 2 miles before I pulled over and had a come apart. I had to call Splenda and tell him how traumatized I was. He talked me through it for a few minutes until I could stop crying and then I was back on my way.
I've always known this about myself, but it was solidified that afternoon. I am fantastic in crisis. I am calm, cool headed, quick thinking and even quicker to action. But then once the crisis is over, I am a complete basket case!
I thought back to the lady who ran around freaking out and crying. Her response was much different. I have a feeling that once she got back on the road, and the crisis was over, she was probably calm, collected and all out together.
Interesting how we all react differently to traumatic experiences. And traumatic it was. For a minute I thought I had a dead man in the cab of his truck and his boy on the side of the road, while I sat all alone with him. It certainly is a memory that has stuck with me. Every time, I just past the Meadow exit, I look ahead for that cloud of dust. I breathe a sigh of relief when it's clear. I think of that young boy - whose name I knew then, but have forgotten now. I think of his Dad. His Mother.
I think of my own reaction. Fight or flight. I think I tend to take the fight reaction. I'm okay with that. So far, in my 43 (almost 44) years of life, it's served me well.
So next time you're in crisis? I'm your girl at the scene. I'll keep it all together and can work calmly and collected. Just don't count on me to keep it all together once the crisis is over!