Motorcycle wreck kills woman, and I was there...

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    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Motorcycle wreck kills woman, and I was there...

    Tulsa Woman Dies After Motorcycle Crashes on Creek Turnpike - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

    The news story gives the very basics. The gist is the husband and wife pair were Eastbound on the Creek Turnpike when there was a flat tire, the bike fishtailed and they lost it. Both were tossed, neither was wearing a helmet. The speed limit in the area is 75. Anyone's guess is as good as mine as to exactly how fast they were going when they lost it, but I'd say over 50. My wife and I were Westbound in her car, on the way to a church gathering when we saw the bike fishtail and go down. She grabbed her phone to dial 911 as I flipped a U through the median and ran up on them to assess.

    Now I'm nothing but a computer nerd with some first aid training and sometimes too much time on my hands that leads to research, but I know my way around basic trauma care. The woman was closer so I hit her first. As I was checking on her another person came up and checked on the man. He was conscious after a few seconds, with no serious visible bleeding somehow. I yelled at the person to keep him still and don't move him. I told one not to let him see her. My wife ended up handing the phone off to someone else as she was getting transferred around and wanted to stop talking and start doing something. I ran back to the car and grabbed a small medical kit we happened to have in there.

    We gloved up and opened every bit of gauze we had. I was about to pull my shirt off to use that when someone brought us a blanket and socks of unknown cleanness. From the initial call to the time Police showed up was about 15 minutes. Someone handed me the phone at one point to hang it up and the call was at 11:31, no emergency services on site yet.

    The woman had ended up laying on her right side and was non-responsive when I first got there, maybe 45 seconds after she hit the pavement. I checked for a radial pulse and found a strong one, but it quickly weakened. I took a better look at her face and it was clear that the reason was because she was bleeding profusely through the nose. I could see the flow pulsing with her heartbeat. In the (probably) two minutes it took us to get to them, get gloved up and start her radial pulse was undetectable. I noticed that she was bleeding out of her left ear canal, which was facing the sky. We could hear breathing a few times. Once she shifted her weight fairly significantly. A second time shortly before or after the police showed up she did it again, but less noticeably. I later came to the conclusion that this was when her body gave in.

    The police officer gloved up, but offered no assistance that I remember. He might have checked for a pulse. Fire/Rescue showed up a few minutes later. By that time I'd lost her jugular pulse. I ran to meet the techs and gave a quick rundown of the victims' conditions. Whether he listened or not I don't know. They cleared us out and each one took a victim to assess. Within two minutes they'd covered her up and focused on stabilizing the man. The officer who was first to respond took information and statements from us and a couple other witnesses. Took my CWL and asked me if I was carrying. When I acknowledged he simply told me to leave it where it was.

    One of the other witnesses who had offered some assistance then started commenting on the fact that she and her husband ride, but always wear helmets, and about how the man will (or should. I don't recall exactly the word she used.) "feel bad for getting his wife killed." I'm no medical professional, and I'm no ME. Based on what I saw of her injuries though, I think a helmet might have given her a fighting chance. I agree that they should have been wearing them in my opinion. I still wanted to slug her. The man lost his wife and was fighting for his own life. The last thing he needed was an armchair quarterback telling him she hopes he feels bad.

    My wife dumped adrenaline pretty hardcore, and was on autopilot the whole time. After the officer let us go it took about ten minutes and she crashed. We continued to the church gathering, knowing it was small and intimate, with a couple very close friends, a couple acquaintances and a man who's a first responder himself. A good group to debrief and lean on. I got about an hour and a half of sleep last night, woke up at 3 this morning, was at the office at 4 and left on a 3 1/2 hour trip to assist a couple clients of my company who were affected by the tornadoes over the weekend.

    So here I am. 1 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 31 hours. I'm drained physically and emotionally. I keep replaying things in my head, trying to figure out what I should have done better, but knowing that the way and rate she was bleeding, it wouldn't have made a difference if EMSA was there waiting when she hit the pavement. She was gone well before they arrived. I think we just refused to give up hope. The man is reportedly in critical but stable condition. I'd never met him before, but I'm thinking about visiting him when it's possible to pass on my condolences.

    This is the first time I've witnessed a death in person. And I didn't just witness, I felt her slip away. I don't know how you first responders do it day in and day out. You're stronger men and women than I.
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    VIP Member Array chiefjason's Avatar
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    Good for you for stopping. I've stopped at a couple. Most folks will not stop. Luckily it's been minor stuff. Internal injuries are nearly impossible to deal with on scene. All you can do is stabilize, stop any bleeding you can, and wait for help. The professionals have access to help and support if they need it. You might want to look into some yourself if you feel you need it too.
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    You never know when you may be thrust into a life changing situation,some people can't function,others push emotions out and concentrate on the task at hand,whether in a firefight,or trying to save a life.
    Having somebody die while trying to save them just reminds us how fragile life is,I've been on a few calls in the past that I didn't think somebody would live,but they pulled through.I think first responders love what they do because the majority of the time the treatment they render on scene and during transport makes the difference in surviveability in what otherwise would be fatal.
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    Senior Member Array Okemo's Avatar
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    Wife and I happened upon a single person motorcycle accident about two years ago. The guy had missed a turn and rammed a street sign and landed 20 feet from his bike flat on his back. Two people were there and had already called 911. The disheartening part of it was they were standing ten feet away and offering the guy (who was very injured and awake) no form of personal interaction.

    My wife is NOT first aid trained but she used all of her skills as a mother and compassionate person until the time that the ambulance arrived she asked him questions...kept him engaged ... found out that his leg was REALLY messed up etc. He was 3000 miles from home and alone.... she made sure he knew he had people who cared about him and it was going to be ok.

    My hat is off to anybody who can rush to such a scary scene and make somebody's life better for those critical moments.

    I love my wife.
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    Distinguished Member Array Arborigine's Avatar
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    been there, done that. Good on you and your wife. Most people just stand there looking stupid holding a phone, sometimes actually filming it. I do what i can, and as a rider hope what goes around comes around when i need it. It is worse when it is a friend. I often later feel a sense of resentment, because of someone's stupid move, or lack of proper riding gear they subjected me to the drama and gore unnecessarily. Not really my call, I can chose to pass by but do not.

    Thank you for doing the right thing.
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    Member Array Spirit4earth's Avatar
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    Her death will probably haunt you for a long time. I work in a very busy Level II Trauma Center ER. I've witnessed several deaths from various reasons, and all I can say is I think she had probably already left her body even before the last breath. You can sense that...and a hint of peace. You did the right thing, the courageous thing. I feel sure that she sensed your presence; this woman did not die alone because YOU were there. You gave her a gift, and ultimately you'll see that you, too, were given a gift. Take care, and sleep in peace.
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    That's a hell of a thing to have to witness. I think you and your wife are stand-up people. Blood coming from the ears is pretty indicative of skull fracture, and the mechanism of injury highly suggests that. So, yes, no doubt a helmet could have changed things dramatically. But not always.

    There's no doubt this will stick with you and your wife for the rest of your lives.

    You need to know this so you can expect it. Both your wife and you experienced major adrenaline dumps. That builds up a lot of byproducts of metabolism which can be expected to effect you for the next few days. Don't be surprised if you find yourself going to the bathroom more frequently than usual. It's just your body excreting the byproducts of that adrenaline dump.

    Sleep disturbances for the next several days is not uncommon either. Whatever you feel out of the ordinary is going to be a normal response to the trauma you witnessed. As long as you realize in a rational manor that her death was beyond your control, it's pointless to try and figure out the reasons why, or to second guess yourself.

    If you have any feelings or thoughts feel free to PM me with any questions.

    I think you and your wife handled yourself well in the face of a sudden and unexpected crisis. Take that with you... It can give you some insight into how you can be expected to handle other types of unexpected crisis.

    Do your best to try not to keep reliving it over and over. I know, easier said than done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit4earth View Post
    Her death will probably haunt you for a long time. I work in a very busy Level II Trauma Center ER. I've witnessed several deaths from various reasons, and all I can say is I think she had probably already left her body even before the last breath. You can sense that...and a hint of peace. You did the right thing, the courageous thing. I feel sure that she sensed your presence; this woman did not die alone because YOU were there. You gave her a gift, and ultimately you'll see that you, too, were given a gift. Take care, and sleep in peace.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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    Distinguished Member Array Elk Hunter's Avatar
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    Bark'n,

    Thanks for your post and being willing to help the OP, pretty tramatic.

    Semper Fi

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    Senior Member Array DMan's Avatar
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    I have been there many times, having both prehospital EMS/Trauma and in the hospitals ER/Tramua centers for more years than I can count. There will always be deaths that you remember, your first on the job death, your first serious trauma death, your first child death, and the first time a patient dies because of a medical mistake (hopefully not your own mistake). I remember all of those, and a few others that stand out.

    There are other deaths that happen but blend into the background over time, but any death affects you at the time. I know that every time I went through a death on the job, I was more subdued and thoughtful and how fragil life is. Each death made me reflect on my actions in that death. Did I do everything I could to prevent the death? Not a "only if I had xyz, I could have saved them" but given all events/resources at hand, did I not do something I should have done. If I could say I did everything I knew how to do, or what I could do then, as I eventually learned, I learned that I could hold my head up and realize that they had a better chance of living than if I had been there.

    It gets more difficult when you know the vicitm or it was a family member. Be thankfull (speaking from experience) that you didn't know the victim. I am out of the medical field now because after one night in the ER I realized it was time for me to move into a new profession.

    This is something you will never forget, use it to make yourself a better person.
    Last edited by DMan; April 16th, 2012 at 08:23 PM. Reason: fixed some wording and punctuation
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    Senior Member Array NH_Esau's Avatar
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    Really nice work, and it speaks well of the two of you and your faith. Don't know what that faith is, but it sounds like you did a pretty good job of living up to James 2:18 in my Book.

    Sadly, nice work doesn't always have happy endings.

    Bark'n is more pro than me on the physiological, but I've done more than my share of post-incident counseling (and gone through it myself more than my share as well). Make sure you continue to process this and talk it out with folks - real talk, not just a computer forum (sounds like you're doing a bit of this already with your church group). Trust me, sweeping stuff like this under the rug only comes back to bite you and those around you... and hard. And don't be afraid to go to a pro.

    Wish I'd figured that out about 10 or 20 years before I did.

    BL: Thanks for being there - at the least (and this isn't very "least" at all), you made sure she didn't die all alone but in the arms of someone who cared. That's something her husband ought to hear as well, because while he recovers he's about to enter hell on earth and he'll need all the sips of cold water he can get.
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    I have spent most of my adult life in metro E.M.S. From what you posted, you did a great job. Sometimes being a person with the critical patient is a great help to them. It is normal to review what you did to see if there was anything else you could have done, but I don't think you could have done any more. I have been on the scene many times with patients who are leaving this "mortal coil" and I really think just having a person with them is sometimes all we can do, but don't think that is a little thing. Don't dwell on it now, just realize you did a very kind human act in rendering aide and staying with this young woman during her final moments.

    As for the person who said the unkind comment, ignore it. Some people just don't engage brain, before running mouth.

    If you wish to visit the husband at some point...that is up to you. It can be hard talking to someone who has suffered such a loss. I am sure the medical people will let him know that his wife didn't suffer, put passed quickly. You might consider sending him a card first and let him know you can visit with him if he likes.

    How do we handle it? It doesn't go away. I think about these types of incidents often. All anyone can do is deal with the circumstances within their training. I have ran many accidents where the wearing of a helmet could have saved a life, but all one can learn from that is to encourage people to wear their helmet. People make their own decisions. I am sure neither of them thought a tire would blow.

    God Bless you and your wife's actions in giving aide.
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    You did what you could do at the time. Good job, sad circumstance.
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    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit4earth View Post
    Her death will probably haunt you for a long time. I work in a very busy Level II Trauma Center ER. I've witnessed several deaths from various reasons, and all I can say is I think she had probably already left her body even before the last breath. You can sense that...and a hint of peace. You did the right thing, the courageous thing. I feel sure that she sensed your presence; this woman did not die alone because YOU were there. You gave her a gift, and ultimately you'll see that you, too, were given a gift. Take care, and sleep in peace.
    Well said.

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    Member Array mook012's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit4earth View Post
    Her death will probably haunt you for a long time. I work in a very busy Level II Trauma Center ER. I've witnessed several deaths from various reasons, and all I can say is I think she had probably already left her body even before the last breath. You can sense that...and a hint of peace. You did the right thing, the courageous thing. I feel sure that she sensed your presence; this woman did not die alone because YOU were there. You gave her a gift, and ultimately you'll see that you, too, were given a gift. Take care, and sleep in peace.
    Have been there more times that I care to remember and each one is just as sad as the first. You and your wife did everything humanly possible - you could not have done more. So don't fault yourself. Even if an E.R. physician was there with you it would not have changed the outcome. And your right - you can actually feel the person slip away and I am sure they know you are there for them. God Bless both of you - there are just not enough of people like you and your wife to go around..
    " Life is tough and it gets tougher if your stupid." John Wayne.

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    31 years in Fire/Rescue/EMS, so I've been to a few of these, some on duty, some off. First and foremost, you stopped and tried to help. Whether or not your efforts made any difference is moot, but you tried to help, and if nothing else she passed with someone holding her hand and being there with her. Take comfort for that fact; she didn't die alone on the side of the road, and you made her last few moments more comfortable by your presence. You kept a calm head and tried to contribute, instead of just standing there wringing your hands. It'll take awhile, but the emotional trauma that you and your wife sustained will fade, but seek counseling if you need it. We who do it for a living have years of peer support that others do not and I've leaned on my friends and family any number of times after bad calls (my wife is an angel on earth...). I salute your efforts and hope that you and your wife are OK. Please feel free to PM me if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chit chat. You guys did a good thing...
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