I brake for accident victims

Yesterday was pretty odd. I may write more about a couple portions of yesterday that deserve more thought and time. I’ll just leave it at that before I start explaining myself.

I stopped to get a late lunch at James Coney Island in east Houston after visiting the VA Hospital for more tests. Upon leaving I eased onto the far outside lane of the Interstate 10 access road. It looked like smooth sailing as a long line of cars were interested in the lanes which turned left and underneath an overpass of the street that intersected. I saw one reason for the cars turning left.

There was someone flat on his back in the middle of the access road just maybe a few feet from the cross street. I drove by the person. I looked at him and looked at what was a crushed bicycle on the side of the road. There was at least one young guy who stood next to the victim. But that was about it. I decided to stop and see what, if anything, I could do.

As I later explained to a Houston cop and a volunteer firefighter who stopped at the scene, I was once certified as an emergency medical technician for about 10 years. There didn’t seem to be much I might do that would help this young man on his back, helmet on his head, and a cell phone to his ear. The prostrated young cyclist was laughing when I approached him. That unnerved me for just a second. But he was telling someone on his cell who might have been his mother that he had been hit by a truck. Then he started crying. I quickly saw why.

The other young man, who was standing, was on the phone as well. It sounded as if he was trying to tell 911 what was happening. It turned out that this fellow was driving the truck that struck the man on the ground. I quickly saw that the victim’s right foot was not where a normal foot might be had he been merely lounging on the access road. His foot was a good 30 degrees from normal. It’s very likely his ankle was either broken or was dislocated.

I tried and succeeded in asking the victim if he was hurt anywhere other than his foot or leg. He said it was just his leg.

I couldn’t help but notice that his bicycle helmet had some kind of black marks on it. These may have been a portion of the tire tracks from the yellow truck that hit the bike rider. I didn’t touch his helmet. I didn’t touch anything. This is because, first, do no harm. I wanted him as immobile as possible so the ambulance people could get him on a back board and onto the “bus.” I did try to look in his eyes. I looked for signs of a possible head injury because it seemed at least a bit of the helmet seemed to have taken a hit. His eyes looked okay and nothing, not even blood, seemed as if it was coming out anywhere. That could be a bad sign, or a good one.

A fire truck finally came up with what I knew were paramedics. I asked the cop if he needed me for anything else. He asked if I saw the accident and I told him I didn’t. I decided it was time to get going. The officer thanked me for stopping.

I didn’t know what to say to the victim. I started to walk off but said something like “Hey, take care, bud.” The victim said: “Thank you, sir.”

Those words made it seem like I had done something to help. Well, I guess I did in just being with the victim and taking an interest in him. Whatever it was, he seemed to appreciate whatever I did to help.

What a day. I have a feeling the injured guy was going to be okay once he was all looked over and fixed up by the medical people.

I took away a couple of lessons from that scene. First, if you are in doubt as to whether or not to stop for an accident then maybe you should stop. You don’t have to go into full rescue mode. Second, and this one is for me as well: wear a helmet.