Early morning sunlight blinded me for a moment.
“Oh God,” I sighed at the general direction of the sun as I lifted my hand to shield my face instinctively before pulling my visor down in front of my windshield.
I yawned and started to consider whether my coffee was yet cool enough when I realised there was an obstruction in the middle of the road coming up in front of me.
What is that... I squinted at the large rectangular metallic object for a few seconds as I drew nearer, until I suddenly realised there was also a much closer obstruction in my lane.
Legs! As I hit my brakes, it all processed through my brain in rapid succession. That was a man laying halfway in the road, halfway in someone’s yard. That big metal object was one of those huge motorcycles. Clearly an accident had occurred in these early morning hours.
I threw my car into park while simultaneously hitting my hazard lights and quickly grabbing my cell phone. He was attempting to rise, rolling onto his knees and trying to push himself up – only to fall back onto his back again. He was clearly winded and in pain. I jumped out and yelled as I approached “Sir! Are you Okay?!”
“No… I hit a deer…” He groaned in pain as he tried to lift his head again to see his phone.
“Ok, I’m calling you an ambulance,” I informed him – hoping it would cause him to lose interest in his phone and lay still.
I dialed 911. As the dispatcher picked up I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see the poor deer across the street struggling to get away in someone else’s yard. It’s front legs clearly broken, it stood and fell repeatedly; slowly making it’s way behind the house. It was keeping it’s eye on us as best it could.
“911; Fire, Police, Ambulance?”
“There’s been a motorcycle accident on Shore Drive and a man is hurt!” I said quickly and clearly.
“Where on Shore Drive – in town, or…?”
I glanced around until I saw the sign I was looking for. “No, on the county side.” Then I gave her the address of the house we were in front of.
“And what’s your name?” She asked me, so I told her.
All the while, the man continued to groan and attempt to get up.
“No! Don’t move!” I directed towards the man.
“Ok, hold on a moment I am dispatching an ambulance… Is he wearing a helmet?”
“Yes… You need to stay laying down, we don’t want you to get further injury!”
“I’m choking!” He suddenly yelled out as he started to gag. “My… My Lungs are filling!”
“He’s choking, I’m putting you on speaker!” I told the dispatcher as I tossed my phone onto the ground and knelt beside him and loosened his helmet strap and unzipped his leather jacket. I told the dispatcher what I was doing. “Don’t take off the helmet!” She said.
“I’m not,” I answered.
He clutched his chest and exclaimed that it hurt.
“I know, I know it hurts – but I need you to lay still!”
He coughed and blood came out of his mouth.
“He’s coughing up blood – What do I do?!” I directed my query to the phone. I laid my hand on his chest and then called out “I can feel his lungs crackling!” I’d had EMS training in Australia… But I had no medical equipment with me, no partner to grab things from the car or help me turn him as one of us hold his head C-spine… It dawned on me that this was the first time I’ve ever been in such a situation: The first and only person on the scene of an emergency.
“What is his name?” The dispatcher asked me.
The man yelled it out amoungst his cries of pain and I repeated the name to her. He then handed me his phone. I could see then he hadn’t been trying to call emergency services himself. He was trying to contact his wife.
“Text my wife, please,” he implored me. “She’s got cancer… She can’t drive…”
What a punch in the gut. Not sure why he told me that, but made it all the more depressing to have to tell her something so serious.
I texted as quickly as I could “Hi, this is a lady named Emma. You’re husband has been in a motorcycle accident. The ambulance is coming.”
I didn’t know what else to say just at that point. I didn’t want to scare her further with the details. I set the phone on his stomach and remained kneeling beside him trying to keep him calm and still – though he continued to make sounds corresponding to his agony. I periodically slapped mosquitoes and other little biting bugs off of my arm and neck as they tried to take advantage of the fact that I was situated in the grass.
I heard the sirens first. “Lewis*, I hear the sirens – they’re almost here.” I looked up in the direction I knew they’d be coming from and saw the lights through the leaves. “I see the lights now, they’re coming… they’re coming…”
I jumped up and stepped back onto the road as they got closer to wave at them. I was sure they’d see the motorcycle, but Lewis was laying half in the grass with trees on their side that would be more difficult to see his placement immediately.
I saw that his wife had responded asking where he was just then so I answered her quickly and then held onto the phone as the paramedics jumped out of their vehicle and started handling the situation.They asked me to stay and keep my car in place with it’s lights still on while they got police and fire backup to come deal with the rest of the scene.
They got a neck brace on and his helmet off first, then onto a spinal board. They asked him how much he liked his leather jacket, because they had difficulty getting it off him safely. He responded he really liked it… so they waited until he started to choke again. That’s when they tipped him sideways using spinal precautions so he could spit and could then get his arm out of his sleeve. Once they laid him back down, they started his IV.
I picked up the helmet that had rolled down a hill; I knew they’d need to take that with them to the ER. The fire rescue person arrived before the police and he helped them lift Lewis onto the stretcher and get him into the ambulance.
I then handed the phone and helmet to one of the paramedics and explained that the text conversation on the screen was his wife so they’d know who to contact as needed. I also let them know I had let her know of the accident since he had asked me to.
A policeman arrived just as they got him in the vehicle. The policeman and fireman considered the wreck for a moment before the policeman came over to ask me what happened. I told him how I came upon the scene; no I didn’t see it happen… But I did see the injured deer. I told him where I last saw it (it had moved by that point.) He then told me to wait until they’d cleared the road and the ambulance had gone.
I got back in my car, backing it up just a bit to allow the ambulance to turn around and calling work to let them know I was on my way – albeit late.
I saw the deer again. It was looking at me from the other side of the house. I wonder what it was thinking about me… It then stumbled and fell it’s way so that it was mostly hidden behind a bush.
As I drove past, I rolled my window down and asked the officer if he needed anything else from me. He said no, but I let him know where I just saw the deer hiding.
I then slowly proceeded forward on my way to work; realising I still hadn’t had any of my coffee yet.
*Patient’s name has been changed.