I was on my way home from clinic this afternoon when I witnessed a hit and run involving a motorcycle and a truck.
I stopped my car and ran to the man staggering to the sidewalk. I helped him to the ground and handed my cellphone to a man next to me, also coming from his car, telling him to call 911. I assessed his injuries in the limited way I knew how, seeing a displaced fracture of his left wrist and a gash on his chin. His mouth was filled with blood and his eyes filled with terror. I asked if he could breath, if he felt pain anywhere else and if he felt dizzy at all. I palpated his ribs and abdomen and asked it caused any pain. He tried to take off his helmet but I took his hand away, telling him I didn’t want to risk moving his neck. His back was burning on the 115 degree concrete so we gently worked a towel beneath him.
At this point, I knew there was nothing else I could do. I had done very little to begin with and kneeling there next to this man only a few years older than me I knew I had reached the extent of my training. So I did the only other thing I knew to do – I talked to him. We exchanged names. I locked eyes with him and told him the ambulance was on its way and told him that he was handling it like a champion. I rested my hand on his chest and coaxed his eyes away from his mangled arm. I kept my voice as calm, soothing and steady as possible.
I told him that the only thing to do now was to keep calm and wait for the ambulance to get there – I don’t think he knew I was talking to myself more than I was to him.
After what felt like a year, the firetrucks got there and the paramedics skillfully lifted him onto the stretcher and off to the hospital. They asked me if I had seen the truck, and I told them I knew it was white, but nothing else. Someone else saw a partial plate and so they asked him to stay behind. Like nothing in the world had happened I got back into my car, parked in the middle of an intersection, and drove back to my condo to meet my parents (who flew down to visit me) for dinner.
It wasn’t until I got into the house that I realized that my hands were covered in blood and a few drops had made it on my heathered orange dress; the only proof that what had just happened was real life.
I don’t have much insight on the situation yet. I don’t have a moral to the story or a happy ending. I will probably never know what happens to this man, but I will never forget the feeling of helplessness in his moment of panic. I will always be haunted by the desperation and fear in his amber eyes.