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Joe Frickin' Friday

Came across an accident

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Out for a ride after work today; just got in. While passing through Saline (a town just south of here) on a two-lane road, I came to a spot where a couple of cars were pulled slightly off to the side, and three women huddling in the middle of the road in front of the lead car (some oncoming traffic was stopped too, and there were a few bystanders). After looking for a bit I could see that there was a dog lying near the double-yellow line.

 

No authority vehicles were present, and as soon as I realized that, that's when the uncertainty set in. What do I do? What can I do? After idling for maybe fifteen seconds I pulled up to the cluster of people, killing my engine to coast the last 10-15 feet (so as not to startle the injured dog). I asked one of the women if they had a cell phone; she said no. On one hand I was surprised that none of them had a cell phone with them in this day and age, but OTOH I was glad that there was something I could do to help. I quickly opened my glove box and handed her mine, letting her dial (I still head helmet/earplugs on).

 

I remember hearing a long time ago that roadway accidents are not infrequently followed by additional accidents as people milling around the accident site are struck by passing vehicles. I put my bike on the sidestand, but the crown of the road wasn't cooperating and I had to get it up on the centerstand. In short order I learned that one of the women was the dog's owner, and another was the driver of a car that had struck the dog. Apparently the dog had somehow gotten away from the owner and ran into the road. The third woman now dialing 911 on my phone was another uninvolved motorist, like me, who had stopped to help. While she dialed, I kept an eye on cars. We had one lane entirely blocked, and fortunately my job was easy because the cars that were approaching from my direction of origin were stopping well distant. Nonetheless I kept watching, since nobody else was, and there was no promise that all of these cars would stay put.

 

Although you may see me leading technical discussions on this board from time to time, I am very hesitant to just grab a leadership position out of thin air, especially when there's uncertainty about what exactly needs to be done. Should I help move this injured dog to the side of the road? Should I direct traffic, telling these cars to stop and those cars to go? Should I offer emotional comfort to the distraught pet owner?

 

When the third woman finished the phone call we worked together to get traffic moving on the one remaining lane. It was a 30-mph road, but it was a main thoroughfare out of this small town, so by the time she got off the phone there were maybe eight cars waiting to go in each direction. Thankfully they were a patient lot. I was worried that one direction would get angry for being made to wait too long while we let too many cars go in the other direction.

 

By the time the buildup of cars had passed, the dog's owner and the woman who had hit it, along with a few other people, were able to move the dog to the side of the road. Now the lane was blocked only by my bike and the SUV driven by the woman directing traffic with me, so we backed up bike and car into a driveway. The dog was a middle-weight, like a heavy border collie with lots of fur (don't know my breeds). It hadn't moved since I arrived, and by the time the police arrived, it was pretty clear to everyone that the dog had died.

 

The squad car showed up as I finished parking my bike. Shortly after that he took a big yellow blanket from his trunk; it was the kind you see them use for covering dead bodies. The dog's owner had been distraught but lucid up until this point, but when the officer came to cover the dog with the blanket it kind of drove the whole thing home, and she got very upset. That was hard for me to watch at that point, and I almost lost it, sitting there on my bike not twenty feet from the whole affair. I felt useless at that point, guilty for thinking there was nothing left for me to do but leave. The woman who had directed traffic with me got into her SUV and left, apparently knowing there was nothing more she could do, either. The officer came and asked if I had seen anything; no, I just showed up and let them use my cell phone to call, I said. He shook my hand and thanked me for that.

 

I still had to sit and wait a few minutes to get my sht together before riding the last five miles home.

 

I've heard from a lot of friends who have lost beloved pets in the last couple of months. This will be of little comfort to those owners, but the one fortunate thing I can say about all of them is that they involved pets who had lived long and full lives and didn't die totally unexpectedly. This one was hard to deal with, despite it being a total stranger, because it was so sudden and vivid. I didn't see it on the 6:00 news, I was there.

 

I finally geared up and left. Despite there being a LEO there who was managing the scene, I still felt like I was absconding somehow, like I hadn't done enough and that I should do something more. Lord help me if I ever come across an accident where human beings are grievously injured.

 

Maybe it's time to look up a CPR/first aid class. Not that it would have helped that poor dog today, but maybe next time I can do something more if it's a person lying there instead.

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Voodoo
bncry.giffrown.gif

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ericfoerster

Mitch,

 

I found my prized possession like that. It's a very sad story. He made though and he is doing well. The people who hurt my dog did it on purpose and they did it to kill him. They left him to die.....it didn't work. Little did they know he had the will to live.

Read about him here:

http://www.webintellects.net/~foerster/tank.htm

Edited by ericfoerster

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KMG_365

Wow, Mitch, sorry that happened and that you had to stumble upon it. If it's any consolation at all, you did stop and offer very useful help. Imagine the poor owner's distress if no one had stopped and she was left there alone to grieve while passers by blithely went about their business. I'm sure your helpful actions, however minor you may deem them, helped to quell some of her emotional trauma, even if she doesn't realize it for a while.

 

Also,

I remember hearing a long time ago that roadway accidents are not infrequently followed by additional accidents as people milling around the accident site are struck by passing vehicles.

The above is VERY true! My personal biggest fear is not of dying in a fire, but rather being taken out by another inattentive/sleepy/drunk/distracted driver while at the side of the road tending to another inattentive/sleepy/drunk driver! You will probably never know for sure if your quick thinking saved any other injuries or even lives that day, but statistically the odds of further catastophe were greatly lessened by your intervention. Which leads me to:

Maybe it's time to look up a CPR/first aid class. Not that it would have helped that poor dog today, but maybe next time I can do something more if it's a person lying there instead.

 

Here you also hit it on the head! One of the biggest traumas faced by witnesses to an accident, severe injury, or acute illness is being plagued by thoughts like: "I wish I knew what to do in that situation. I feel helpless. Why didn't I do more? I wish I had done something differently/better." etc. One of the things you get out of taking some sort of formal emergency training is the satisfaction of not just knowing what to do to be of the most help in a given emergency situation, but also knowing what is doable--and therefore what might just be out of anyone's control. This often can be a source of comfort for people who aren't faced with such things every day.

 

And lastly, in my opinion you did everything you could have . . . and did it right. Stop to assist, take care of your safety first (and your bike's safety, too), then the safety of "the scene" (get people out of the road or control access to the scene), asses the situation, make sure that help is summoned in a timely manner, render what aid you can (injured animals can be VERY dangerous and unpredictable--even when normally the animal is very friendly and docile--the sympathetic "fight-or-flight" system has taken over and you would only be putting yourself in danger to get too close), then turn it over to a higher level of authority. Then you can walk away with a clear conscience--that you did what you could and that you made a positive difference.

 

Good job.

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KevinH
Wow, Mitch, sorry that happened and that you had to stumble upon it. If it's any consolation at all, you did stop and offer very useful help. Imagine the poor owner's distress if no one had stopped and she was left there alone to grieve while passers by blithely went about their business. I'm sure your helpful actions, however minor you may deem them, helped to quell some of her emotional trauma, even if she doesn't realize it for a while.

 

 

Exactly. Thanks for stopping Mitch. When the lady has time to reflect she will remember the caring faces and it will help her grief. bncry.gif

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ChrisNYC

Mitch .. that's very sad story.

 

And, you did everything right.

 

------------------

Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as ...

310287-mar2004.gif

 

See you at Mayhem '04

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tallman

Jamie nailed it.

Tough situation.

As bad as you felt, Mitch, it's better than you'd feel now if you hadn't stopped.

You done good. welcome.gif

As usual. thumbsup.gif

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Joe Frickin' Friday

 

Thanks to all for your comments.

 

A special thanks to you, Jamie, for your comments; they mean a lot coming from a professional in the field.

 

The local community college offers a first aid/CPR course, but none of what they currently offer will fit my schedule. They do have a couple of weekend courses, but I'll be out of town (maybe this fall or winter, when the new course catalog comes out...). Also, I was hoping for additional specific information about managing traffic accident scenes in particular, but it seems they don't offer anything like that.

 

A CPR/first aid cert would be a good thing, and I'll still go for that, but can you recommend a book or other resource that might have something more to offer?

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KMG_365

'Morning Mitch,

I was hoping for additional specific information about managing traffic accident scenes in particular

Managing traffic is really not my bailiwick, but I'm sure some of the fine LEO's here could give us some helpful tips (I know I rely on them to keep me from getting creamed). The only basics I know are leave plenty of space for warning, slowing, escape, and use your vehicle to protect you.

 

can you recommend a book or other resource that might have something more to offer?

When I did the SoCal Emergency Training Day at Laney's last year I looked and looked for something extant to use as a text, but I'm still looking . . . . There is a great thread here with lots of good info, and I added my outline I made up for the class at the end (yup, I killed another one! tongue.gif ). Feel free to use any portions of the outline you feel might be useful if you want to try to find someone medically/EMS trained to host a Training Day in your area, or bring it along with a half-gallon of Ice Cream to your local Fire House and grill them with questions! grin.gif (just don't tell them I sent you! nono.gif )

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RightSpin

Lord help me if I ever come across an accident where human beings are grievously injured.

 

Mitch, this will sound kind of weird, but when you find yourself in such a situation, you will find that you will instinctively know what to do. A strange calm and focus takes over. I can't really explain it, it just happens.

 

 

Good work thinking of and acting on the bigger picture (keeping the accident scene from becomming a bigger accident scene).

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DavidEBSmith

There's this outline for motorcycle accident scene management that's been floating around the Internet for a while.

 

The first thing it says to do is remain calm and appear to be in control so that you can guide all the people who are running around frantic. The second thing to do is reassure the victim. The third thing to do is establish scene safety. Then you can worry about first aid. It sounds like you instinctively did everything right.

 

We had an incident recently in our office in which someone had a medical emergency. There must have been 20 people standing around not knowing what to do. Two of us just started telling people what to do - "You go stand by the front door and hold it open for the paramedics and tell them where we are! You go take an elevator down to the first floor and hold it there! You walk around the floor and try to find somebody who knows CPR! You hold everybody back and make a path for the paramedics! You go find the division secretary and get his contact information!" Everyone did as they were told, it helped get the paramedics on the scene quickly, and it prevented anybody from jumping in and doing something stupid. (We were also on the phone with 911 who was telling us what to do with the person until the paramedics got there).

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Joe Frickin' Friday
There's this outline for motorcycle accident scene management that's been floating around the Internet for a while.

 

That's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for! Thanks!

 

The first thing it says to do is remain calm and appear to be in control so that you can guide all the people who are running around frantic.

 

OK, I'm going to revel in nerdliness and cite a scene from a particular episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For reasons I won't go into here, the captain and the ship's doctor were able to read each others' minds. At one point the doctor asked how they were going to solve some major problem they were facing (or how far/which way they had to hike to their destination, or something). The captain responded with some definite answer, delivered in a confident voice. The doctor, able to read the captain's mind, was surprised to learn that the captain in fact had no idea whatsoever.

 

Confronted with this fact, the captain confided that a good portion of leadership is acting with outward confidence, even when not entirely confident, so as to inspire calm/order/confidence/hope in others around you. Not that I'm given to taking Star Trek as some kind of font of great wisdom, but occasionally there's something relevant. And that nuggest in particular is pretty much in line with what you had described above: appear to be in control.

 

That's a lot easier to do, though, when you've done at least a little preparation (if only mental) and have at least a vague checklist to follow. The checklist you linked to will be very helpful I think, and I do plan to take a first aid/CPR course as soon as I find one that fits my schedule.

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MotoBoy

Mtch:

 

Ya' done good. My limited experience tells me that in these circumstances, instincts take over, and if they're reasonably good (as your obviously are), you a) don't make the situation worse; and b) make logical decisions real fast. You did those things.

 

As for acting without perfect knowledge, that's what leaders always do. It's not leadership to follow a rote pattern of responses; leadership inevitably involves making decisions based upon limited knowledge and then getting the group to follow ... in some ways, whether they follow because the leader has personality, charisma, charm, or an apparent skill the group individuals don't have, is irrelevant.

 

Good job.

 

Ryanh

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