Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sudden Impact

You know how in the movies when different law enforcement agencies fight over jurisdiction and the overseeing of a particular crime scene? Well, I’ve finally discovered why this happens.

I was on my way home from work the other day when I witnessed a particularly hair rising incident. I was driving by a elderly cyclist, when she suddenly started wobbling and losing control. I continued to watch her in my rear view mirror, and sure enough, she toppled over, falling on her right side as she made contact with the unrelenting cement. Her body awkwardly absorbed the impact as she collapsed. Her unprotected head, obediently complying with the laws of inertia, collided with the sidewalk with a bone-crushing thud.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I pulled over, flicked on my hazards, and double-timed it to the woman to make sure that she was okay. When I reached her, she was sitting up with her hand lightly palpating the area of her head from which blood was gushing forth. Not necessarily, a Grey’s Anatomy geyser of spewing death, but more like a UFC knee to the forehead gash that would undoubtedly require a few stitches.  I asked her a few questions like whether she needed me to call an ambulance, and if she was okay, as I contemplated running back to the car for my first aid kit. By then, another motorist had approached and handed me a towel, which I was going to put on the wound and apply pressure. Before I could use the towel and ask the other Samaritan, who was holding his cell phone to call 911, an off duty, hot shot, fire-house paramedic couple came barreling in. The guy told us to step back as he snatched the towel, applied it to the lady’s head, while the girl knelt in front of the slightly disoriented woman and began to hurl a barrage of questions at her.

Now, I’m by no means a doctor, nurse, paramedic, or even a flight attendant , but applying first aid and CPR is not outside my scope of practice. In fact, I have to certify in both in order to keep my National Certification and local licensing current, as well as to remain eligible to work for my employer. I’m not inept at applying basic first aid. Thank you fucking power ranger paramedics, because God only knows how I may have let this lady bleed out had you not swooped in and held a towel to her head as you verbally assaulted her with questions in such rapid succession that she barely had time to respond. Questions are supposed to help you assess the degree of head trauma, not induce unconsciousness.

Eventually, the woman’s husband, who was a couple hundred meters in the rear, showed up and answered the paramedic’s questions concerning his wife’s medical history and how she fell. They also asked the owner of the towel to describe what had happened. I, however, the one who was essentially right next to her when she fell, and who saw everything unfold, was completely ignored. Of course, ignore the brown man.
After realizing that I was not needed, I jogged back to my car and joined the highway’s drove of homebound commuters. 

It was not until I began reflecting on the event, going over all of my action’s and thought processes did I realize how upset I was about how the paramedics handled the situation. I understand the importance of immediate medical response, but of equal and sometimes even more significance, is the necessity to gather vital information prior to jumping into action. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they showed up, but they should have immediately identified who they were and assessed the scene prior to playing hero. Unless you’re Derek Shepherd, or Captain James T. Kirk, you need to slow your roll.


mischief said...

People can be so disappointing. But in this case, you were not disappointing, not at all. Someone should have said thank you to you, not, I know, that this is what you were in seeking. But I'm thankful to you from far away, and thankful that there are people in the world like you who will stop to help.


Slyde said...

very well said, and very good of you to rush to help.

sad as it sounds, the truth is many people would just keep on driving and not get involved..

Mrs. Hall said...

slow your roll indeed!!

but. that's what paramedics do... everything is STAT THIS AND STAT THAT!!

that's why I'm in mental health. there are no code blues, no STAT, and no goddamn emergencies.

and ..... breathe!! :)

Brown said...

mischief - thank you for your nod of appreciation, but it certainly wasn't something I was fishing for. I like to think that others would do the same. I suppose it has a lot to do with being a massage therapist and wanting to help others, or how I was raised. I don't want to be thanked, just not treated as if I wasn't there. In the end, I didn't do anything heroic or magnificent. I just took the time to let someone else know that they weren't alone.

Slyde - I'm tempted to agree with you, but there's still a large part of me that believes in naive as that may be.

Mrs. Hall - *sigh* if only most of us would just take the time to breath more often, perhaps we wouldn't need the paramedics so often.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It sounds as if the officious paramedics did exactly what you were already doing for that woman, plus of course the barrage of mind-numbing questions. There is no excuse for such rudeness, and in fact since you were first on the scene, it would have been helpful to ask YOU for your observations.

The racial aspect is simply nasty and really bites. I've lived in enough places to know it could have happened anywhere, but may I ask what state you live in?

Stephanie said...

I know funny wasn't necessarily your aim, although perhaps lightening up the situation was, but - and I'm really sorry - I can't help myself from laughing at your commentary. Your outer reflection of your view of this is really quite funny. On a serious note, may I comment that sometimes thoughtlessness really is just that? It might have had nothing to do with your nationality at all, just someone so intent on their own focus (ridiculously acted on, for sure) that they simply didn't give you a thought at all. Hmmm, on second thought, maybe there was a little thought involved... possibly, just possibly, they glanced at you and thought you were 16. Ya think maybe? ; )

My fav: "Thank you fucking power ranger paramedics...". Still giggling. That is damn funny.