Despite my talk of turkeys and the overabundance of trees, ours is not a quiet street.
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Last weekend around 2 am, a car pulled into our driveway while I watched Judith MacKenzie's McCuin's video "Spinning Exotic and Luxury Fibers". Shortly after, a police car pulled up as well. Turns out the kid had passed the cop, panicked, hit a rock wall, and then pulled into our driveway as if he knew us. As soon as he told the cops he had a couple of drinks, Scott said, "he's bumming". Sure enough, they hauled him off.
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Last night, as we were going to bed, we heard a squeal and crash. Scott rushed out to see what had happened while I called 911. Scott said a motorcyclist had crashed into a tree and was lying face down, moaning (I could hear him from the house). I went out with FBS over my shoulders, not knowing if there was anything I could do, but wanting to be there just in case.
It was an anxious few minutes before the police arrived; we told him to "hang in there" and that "help is on the way", though we didn't know if he could hear us. His moaning was weakening. The police arrived; we told them what we knew and then we all waited for the ambulance. The officers didn't want to move him unnecessarily, his head was at an awkward angle; but the moaning was getting weaker and his heartrate slowing. Finally they carefully turned him over to see what they could do.
The firetruck arrived first and they started CPR; I could see the motorcyclist's stomach jumping up with every downward thrust on his chest. They tried to intubate, they tried to get a line in, they hooked him up to a monitor. All those things you see on TV, but without the glamour and choreography. Or lights. Scott had brought a flashlight, so we stood shining it onto the motorcyclist so the workers could see.
At first I couldn't even look at the motorcyclist; I was afraid of what I might see. Once the police had turned him over, I took quick status glances and mostly focused on other things. By the end I could look for brief moments, but the details were too disturbing. Eyes rolled. Cut on his nose where his helmet smashed. Legs awkwardly placed. Stomach jumping.
By the time the ambulance arrived, it didn't seem there was much they could do. There were now 5 vehicles with assorted flashing lights, including the firetruck behind me whose engine occasionally roared and startled me. I realized I was freaked out and started breathing slowly, trying to calm down. I wondered how the officers, fire fighters, and EMT's did this, day in and day out.
To the end I kept hoping he'd come out of it. I sent him silent encouragement. Even after he'd stopped breathing and before the fire truck arrived, the officer standing over him kept calling his name, trying to get him to come back.
When they took his helmet off I could see he was a young kid, maybe in college on summer vacation. Maybe on his way home.
Life can change in an instant. Unexpectedly.
They took him away and we went back inside. The officers stayed to figure out what had happened. Scott and I stayed up for a while talking about it.
The EMT's were on-call, meaning when they got the call, they jumped out of bed, drove to the ambulance, and then drove out here. If they had arrived when the police did, there was a chance they might have been able to do something; but even then, he faded quickly. I realized that if something happened to us, at night or perhaps in the evening, we'd be in the same boat. One of the advantages of city living -- ambulances at all hours of the night (Scott: 'cuz they need 'em). Maybe it's time to take a CPR class.
In the end there were 5 vehicles and 7 or 8 people there, not including us, all hoping for the best and doing what they could. So many people to save one. I suppose in an actual hospital the ratio is even higher, but it's not something you really think about. Until you need it.
Wearing FBS was strangely comforting to me. I couldn't tell you why, but having it wrapped around my shoulders made me feel a lot better.
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Today there were flowers placed by the tree where he crashed.
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Life will go back to normal. For me. I'll go back to my spinning, knitting, working, blogging. But maybe in the midst of that, I'll remember to sign up for that CPR class. And look into some of those things you think you don't need until you're old, grey and wrinkled, like a living will.
I definitely have a new appreciation for what rescue workers do, and how things happen in small towns.
Meanwhile, I really hope next weekend is just a quiet weekend.