I went to lunch with my friend Ashley today (and yes, I paid her to write that post about me. I'm kidding people.) and while our time spent together is always memorable, it almost became a little too memorable. You see as we were leaving, in our separate cars, I nearly got T-boned by a car who ran a red light. And not just a 'oh-crap-it's-turning-yellow-but-let's-try-to-make-it-through' running a red light, but a full on 'continue-going-50mph-down-this-road-and-pretend-that-red-really-means-green-and-disregard-any-other-traffic' running a red light. That bad. I say nearly because I managed to just barely avoid the collision. But after the close call, I started to think, what would have happened if I wasn't so lucky?
This sparked a conversation with Ashley (who was right behind me) about what she would have done if I hadn't been so lucky. "I'm not sure, I'd hope just to not freak out and stay relatively calm." (I probably misquoted, but you get the gist--my phone is too far to pull it up verbatim.) So I decided to walk her through what I would have done if roles were swapped and luck was not on our side. (This is MY opinion based on some pretty good instincts and training, but once you're in a situation, that can all go out the door. Take it for what it's worth: my two cents.):
- Pull over to a safe spot, park the car and put the hazards on. Run over to the car that was hit while simultaneously calling 911 and avoid getting hit by traffic.
- Check on the people involved. In this case where it's a friend involved, it would be hard to not go straight to your friend. If she (the driver of the hit car) is responding to being beckoned (and I mean beckoned: yell out, "ARE YOU OKAY? CAN YOU HEAR ME? DON'T MOVE, HELP IS ON THE WAY!"), then that's a good sign and the 911 operator can probably walk you through the rest. Do the same for the other injured parties as well (if applicable).
- If there is no response, then you need to move onto the next steps. You don't want to move the injured person because you might make things worse, but you don't want to ignore them either. ABCs: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Check to make sure the airway isn't blocked--if there is an obstruction, remove it if you can. See if the person is breathing. Do this by looking for their chest rising and falling, listening for breathing sounds and feeling their breath on your skin. The best position to do this is by putting your ear up close to their nose so you can feel breath from their mouth on your cheek.
- The 911 operator should be able to walk you through all of this--the most important thing is to try and remain calm.
- Once emergency crews have arrived, I would grab my friend's phone, pray that there isn't a lock code or if there is one, that I know it or can crack it, and search for an ICE contact. I purposely took the lock code off of my phone for this reason. Do I want people snooping through my phone? No. But do I want to be in an emergency situation alone with no one who knows me or what to do next because of a locked phone? No. Hopefully I'd find an ICE contact and would call them and let them know what was going on.
- So there's no ICE--now what? This is where my super duper listening skills would come into play. For Ashley, I know her boyfriend lives in town and though I haven't met the lucky fella, I know his name and would call him to let him know what was going on. Next, I thought about calling her mom in Texas, but instead opted to call her stepdad. Why? Because a call from your daughter's friend letting you know that she's been in an accident would freak any mom out. Double freak out if said daughter is halfway across the country. It's better to talk to the parent who might be a little less freaked out and have them share the news. And for my third phone-a-friend, I'd call her best friend, Tiffany, because best friends always know what to do. (Including engagement ring preferences, ahem ahem gentlemen...)
- Bonus points in this hypothetical situation: Ashley and I have the same employer and have many friends who are in the same category. With a few clicks of a mouse (or a phone call to a friend who is by a computer since we would have ridden to the hospital or met up there in our own car), you can find and contact my manager and share the news so people are aware of the situation.
Of course the whole plan has variables: severity of the incident, adrenaline, and freakout factors. During this part of an emergency, it's almost like it's harder being the bystander than the victim. Almost. (Don't even get me started on the bystander effect--how frustrating, right?) All in all, it was a good teaching moment and conversation to have--because you never know what's going to happen out of the blue. While it was good to talk about, I'm thankful that it didn't have to be used (and hope that it never will!)
What would you do in case of emergency?
P.S. In case you're wondering where my train of thought came from, at one point I had my EMT-B certification. The card is now expired but the foundation is still there.