Sunday, September 4, 2011

SUV Crash

On the way home yesterday from our filming in Medford, Oregon, we were coming up on the Sunny Valley Loop exit 71 area. We were driving down a long hill when my wife gasps and my daughter murmured "My God." In the opposite lane (South Bound) was a flipped and smashed Ford SUV. A man was stumbling around bleeding, a  few people were talking to someone in the upside down SUV. Traffic was backed up in the opposite direction for miles. We pulled over and jumped out of our van running to see if we could help. My wife and I just completed CPR training for our Arts School so we felt a little prepared. I called 911 and my wife ran ahead followed by my daughter. My son was coming up behind me. I kept thinking that some of the accident victims were surely dead. How would my kids react to that? 

The 911 operator said she had already gotten a dozen calls on this accident and help was on the way. In front of all the blocked cars was a large almost brand new Ford SUV, flipped upside down with a bleeding lady trapped in the drivers seat. The roof was partially smashed in on her side and multiples windows busted out.  The remnants of a thirty foot camper trailer were smashed to bits and strewn over the highway and down the embankment. Only the twisted under carriage told that this had once been a camper trailer. When I got to the wreck, my wife had asked the wandering man to sit down. He had pulled a pillow to his head to slow the bleeding from his massive head wound. Another lady was talking calmly to him. Blood soaked his shirt, what I could see of his face and the pillow. He was stammering and almost in shock. My wife had run over to a group of teenage girls with two dogs. One was bleeding from her shoulder and was as pale as a ghost. She had a slightly torn shirt and bruises all over her arm and side. My wife asked her to sit by the guardrail and stay calm. She kept mumbling over and over about her grandma and her foster Mom in the smashed up Ford SUV. Not sure- but it seemed some of the girls were foster kids and some were the injured couples birth children. Five teenage girls in all. My wife continued to survey her injuries and talk calmly to her. Sometimes that helps immensely- knowing someone is with you until the EMTs arrive. A group of drivers was surrounding the lady trapped in the SUV. Several climbed in the passenger side to see if they could cut her loose from her seat belt. Standing by my wife and the stammering teen, I noticed the wandering pillow man was now by himself. The gal that had been talking to him was with the group around the SUV lady. 

I went over to the man. He said he was feeling sick and needed some water. As I was walking back to consult my wife,  a couple came up from a road below I-5 with several gallons of bottled water and asked if anybody needed any. Perfect timing. I went and grabbed one asking my wife if I could give him water. She said if he was going into shock it was not a good idea. I took the water to the pillow man, who was now laying on his side in the dirt and told him not to drink, but just wet his lips and mouth. Since I was holding the water bottle I made sure he didn't drink more than  a sip. I then poured a little water on the back of his neck to wash some of the blood away and see if his injuries extended onto his neck area. He asked me to hold the pillow because his arms were getting tired and he might pass out. He rolled over onto his back and I took a blanket and put under his neck. A gal came running over to us and we turned his body parallel with the embankment and propped his feet up. I constantly reassured the man his wife was still alive and his daughters were all OK. His breathing was rapid, but began slowing as we talked. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as we waited and waited for the EMTs to arrive. 

I looked up and saw a man with a camera taking pictures. "What?" I said in his direction. "I am a journalist, it's my job," he replied. "OK why not," I thought. A new gal came over to me and the pillow man. She said she was a medic and jumped in to assess the pillow mans condition. I got up to see how my wife was doing with the teenage girl. A group of new people including a doctor were now around the SUV lady. She was still trapped, but  didn't seem as panicked as before. I saw an iPhone and cell phone in the road next to the SUV and told the SUV lady I would give them to her daughters. She acknowledged and nodded (tho upside down).  I set the phones on a guardrail by the five sisters, two dogs and now a hamster in a battered cage telling them they were their Mom's. My wife who had been bouncing between the teenage girl and SUV lady, was now with the bleeding teenage girl again calming her, while my daughter was talking to one of her sisters with a hand injury. Since her injury was not as serious as the others, people had not given her much attention. About then we heard the sirens in the distance coming from all directions. I could feel a collective sigh of relief from all the good samaritans. An ambulance came from the south, a medic truck from the north and a police car rolled up a side road- all within a few minutes of each other. The paramedics asked us a few questions and jumped right in on the injured. I made myself useful picking up some road debris and then we all walked back to our van. A motorist had started directing traffic around the crash site. I turned I took a one picture (above) with my phone.

I was amazed at how all the good samaritans worked together, like a single unit. It was automatic. No arguing or bossing. Very enlightening in that respect. I do hope the family makes a full recovery.

I was also amazed at how many people just sat in their cars not helping at all. 

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