A lesson/reminder to all on how fragile a life is
NOTE: Stop reading now if you have a weak stomach and/or are sensitive about medical situationsTo all of Pinkbike:
I am not the "blog type" of person, but feel everyone needs a reminder every now and then. My experiences yesterday moved me enough to write them down, and I hope it touches you.
Yesterday was a normal Colorado Tuesday, until I got a call from my cousin. He had found a motorcycle to possibly purchase, and since it was a Ducati, wanted me to look it over for him (I am an ex-Ducati tech) I took off from work early, headed down there and helped him out, went to dinner and chilled at his house for a bit before I decided to head home.
I hopped in my Jeep and started the regular hour and a half trek back to my house, taking I-25 for most of the way. There are constantly fender benders on this highway, as it is heavily traveled, and has numerous poorly marked construction zones. Everything was fine until I was 5 miles away from my exit.
While cruising down the road, I saw a flash of headlights, then they disappeared, then back again and finally a large puff of dust. I knew exactly what had happened, as I had seen some parts of it before. Air bag deployment. I checked my mirrors and slammed on my brakes and turned on the 4-ways.
Upon initial examination of the scene, I found a Blazer on its side, and it had clearly been upside down several times. I located one of the passengers walking about in a daze, had him lay down and questioned him briefly. By this time one other motorist had stopped to see what I was doing. The passenger told me he was fine, but his buddy was still in the car. I instructed the other motorist to watch over this kid, keep him warm with my blanket and call 911 on my cell.
Since it was 11 pm, I had trouble looking in the truck, so I pulled out my million candlepower spot lamp and looked through the car, smelling for potential flammables at the same time. I couldn't find anyone in the car, and started thinking the guy must be out of it, and was mistaken...until I spotted a shoe with my spot lamp. There was clearly another victim. Making passes across the median with my lamp, I located another person, set my lamp down with it aimed at him, and booked.
When I spotted him, an EMT from Laramie, WY had also stopped and ran over to me and the second person with a med kit. It the worst sight of my life. The kid, who was about 20, was bleeding severely from both ears, the top of his head and mouth, respirating blood, and was completely unresponsive to light and sound stimuli. He had a pulse, but he was beginning to have so much blood coming up his airway, that he was unable to get air in. At this point we were forced to decide to turn him to drain the blood, and risk neck injury, or leave him flat and hope for the best. He made the choice for us, as we lost his pulse. Since we had no airway gear between the two of us, I was forced to rely solely on chest compressions to try to get a pulse back. Even with my separated shoulder, I became a human CPR machine, and kept at it till we regained his pulse. This was a triumph, but at the time seemed as though it was nothing in our war against time.
Throughout chest compressions, he continually spouted plumes of blood, and made the sounds of an animal in agony. He was not conscious, but sometimes while his body choked and expelled the fluid in his lungs, his eyes would meet mine and send chills up my spine. After about a minute of having a pulse, we lost it again. For a second time, I went right to the compressions. While waiting for paramedics to show up, several others stopped and took a look at what the EMT and I were doing, and just backed away without so much as a word. I regained his pulse again, and lost it right as I could see the ambulance lights coming up the rise.
This complete stranger had me completely focused on saving his life, no matter how hard it was to look at, or as bad as my shoulder hurt, or my limbs became cold from the snow that had just begun. The paramedics huddled around the EMT and I, allowing us to keep everything going while they prepared for his extraction. We finally were given some airway gear, and got him ready for transport, but now it had become an exercise in futility. His internal bleeding had become so extreme that his entire pale white abdomen had become a bruise not much different from an impressionist painting of the night sky. The second I removed my hands from his chest and ceased compressions, we lost his pulse for the last time. His heartbeat was never again to be brought back, and I had him die in my arms. The paramedics even knew that his time had come, and only kept with the hand pump for air supply.
I had this complete stranger's blood on my clothes, extremities, and all over the ground. Since I didn't want to impede the paramedics' assistance to the initial victim I found, I tried to get one of police/state patrol officers to provide me with at least an alcohol wipe, to no avail, as they had joking around being the main thing on their minds. They had no care toward either of the accident victims, nor the EMT and I who put our own well being on the line to save another life. Finally, we dug out my first aid kit from my MTB bag and cleaned ourselves up a little and went looking at the Blazer. The first kid I found had his seat belt on, but the other did not. Had he taken the seconds it takes to use this simple safety device, his wounds may have been mild enough for me to have saved his life. Instead, he was ejected through the windshield, and ultimately, caused his own demise.
I drove myself home after giving my statement, not even having the desire to have music on. I was sick to my stomach. I had seen animals die horrible deaths before, but having a human being die in my hands, even one I had never seen before, had a profound effect on me.
I bathed myself in bleach and had the worst night of sleep in my life. I had tried everything I possibly could have done, and failed miserably.
If you've made it this far through the story, I hope I have conveyed detail to you in a sufficient manner for you to listen to the world and WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT. I would never hesitate to do what I did last night again, but I never WANT to see it happen again. For the sake of other people like me, please do us a favor and wear it.
Rant over, I don't know if it will do any good, but at least I can say I tried to prevent needless death.
Side note: I do have CPR and EMT training, if a situation like this arises and you do not know what to do, please do not try anything other than call 911, (or other emergency #'s) and try to keep the victim insulated from cold/heat and KEEP THEM CALM. NEVER move them. (ok, so if they're on a set of train tracks and there's a train coming..... there's exceptions to every rule.