Mike: Icy Road Wreck
Well, my story is not the most exciting one I have ever experienced, but I learned the most from it.
I was very early into my career in law enforcement, and I had gotten off of work late at night. It was early February, and around 20 degrees. I lived about 30-40 minutes from my barracks and was generally new to the area at the time. I lived tucked away in the woods along a very windy two-lane road.
Upon cresting a hill, I see smoke in the area and headlights up an embankment. I begin to hit the brakes on the vehicle, and see a young man lying in the middle of the highway, not moving. I quickly back my truck up to the crest of the hill, because it was a blind area, and I wanted other drivers to not hit us.
I quickly popped a flare and grabbed my newly assembled med kit (quick clot, packing gauze, Israeli dressings, tourniquet, sucking chest seal, etc.).
As I ran toward the injured man, I saw a woman running toward him from the opposite direction. Me and the woman reached to the injured man at the same time. The man was moving slightly. I could see his breathe in the bitter cold air, so I knew he was alive and had a heartbeat. I did not see any visible traumatic injuries, but I could see he had been ejected from his overturned car. I asked the woman if she
had cell signal as I tried to just keep his head and spine stable. He was coming to consciousness as the woman said she had very little. I asked her to go to my vehicle (highest vantage point) and get an emergency yellow blanket from under my seat as she tried to get out to 911.
As she did that, I kept re-assuring the man that he was okay, and that he needed to try and stay still. I began thinking there was a real possibility he had a head/neck/spine injury based on his road-rash flesh injuries. He started to understand what I was saying, and I was able to keep him calm and stable.
The woman came back with my emergency blanket, and I tried to keep it over the center of his body, as it was cold, and he was only wearing a t-shirt and laying on the freezing blacktop. Thankfully, EMS arrived within 5-7 minutes, and were able to get him to a hospital.
I never heard any follow up about what had happened, as I left after EMS cleared, but I believe he likely made a recovery. That night taught me a good lesson about being prepared when I least expected to act. I was new in law enforcement, and expected to respond to things while working, but because I took my training seriously, I was prepared enough to actually outfit a kit for my personal vehicle.
Since that time, I’ve had more high-risk incidents, but that was the one that really changed my perspective. I was a little naïve early on, as we all are, but it gave me clarity for why it’s important to practice applying your skills and techniques, and for why it’s important to build your own kits and be familiar with your tools, and their location. I look back and feel confident that if he needed more aid to be stabilized, I would have been able to give him a real shot at survival. I think about what might have happened if he needed a tourniquet and I didn’t have one or did not know how to confidently apply one. Go-time might happen at any moment and you’re not going to have the luxury of time.
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