Why am I bothering to post about this? Don't know, really; mostly, it just seems to keep rolling back around in my head, and I'm hoping that if I write some of it down, I'll be able to sleep.
Late this afternoon, I'm setting up to do yard work outside -- mostly just string-trimming the lawn sufficiently that we don't get a warning citation from the city (we live on a major road, and they're polite about it, but they do enforce the weed rules once your entire lawn is exceeding knee-high, and I don't mean to a grasshopper).
I hear this sort of bang-bang-bang-crunchy-bang noise, like... well, I'm not sure *what* to describe it as. It didn't really make sense at the time, but the next thing I heard was a classic horror-movie scream. Which sort of puzzled me for a moment, but at least grabbed my attention enough that I was actively processing things. So when the second scream came, I still didn't know what the hell was going on, but I knew something was Wrong(tm), dropped what I was doing, and started booking it in the direction of the sound (about twenty feet behind my neighbor, who was also out doing yard-work).
As soon as I get to the street and have line of sight, it's really clear what is going on, because the first thing I spot is a hysterical woman in the middle of the road -- a road that is one lane in each direction, undivided, meaning there is *no* way this is just someone everyone is driving around -- followed by the sight of a motorcycle down on its side, near her. Well, shit, that can't be good -- but she's up and moving around, that means her limbs are mostly in one piece and she isn't so trashed that she can't move.
About that time I realize that there's another body, mostly behind and partially *under* the motorcycle, that I hadn't been able to see from my initial angle.
Okay, first point of order, has anyone called... yes, I see at least three people on cell phones, on to the next thing. Triage... we've already established that the woman is mobile, if seriously freaking the fuck out (let me put it this way: I grew up in a household with a woman who would completely come unhinged over fairly minor stuff -- when I say 'hysterical', I mean this woman was no longer processing the same reality that anyone else was in, not really). That's bad, but survivable, how's the other body? Laying on its side, I can see the arms and the... huh?
You know it isn't good when your brain cannot process something for a moment because that *can't* be a leg because legs don't *go* that direction, they keep going mostly straight, except there's nothing there, and the blue jeans are all one continuous piece, so yeah, that *is* his leg. Oi. As they say, he ain't gonna be dancing again any time soon. Okay, other major injuries... hard to say, but that and his position are bad enough that he shouldn't be moved unless there's imminent danger. Speaking of which... right, that sparking is the blinker that got trashed when it went down. No fuel spill, we're okay there.
About that time, someone asked about moving him, and I told them no, but that we should get the bike off of him (I mean, it can't be helping his leg any, and from everything I can see we won't have to move him to do it, unless there's something *truly* bad underneath, where I can't see yet, like a piece of the bike going *through* his leg or something). We tip the bike up and get it more or less vertical, move it a few feet so that it isn't in the way, and get the kickstand down and settle it. Okay, two folks are checking on the guy, and they know not to move him, and I don't see anywhere near enough blood to think that he's in any kind of critical danger (or at least, not any kind that we're going to be able to do anything about), and that lady is still screaming bloody murder.
Time to try to get her calmed down before she hurts herself, or someone else, because screaming panic, while useful in summoning help, is not generally a very good sign when it continues after help has arrived and is clearly in action. You know, that whole "not in the same reality" problem -- this is, in fact, probably about the time I really processed that she was in quite that state.
Okay, get over to her, she's not flailing, good... talk to her, try to get her calmed down, she's vaguely responsive to voice but clearly just Not With The Program. Shit. Okay, next stage, get closer, try to figure out if she's actually hurt worse than it looks and just not aware of it, because freaking out that badly means she's either in an adrenaline rush or about to be in serious shock, maybe both. Road rash on both arms, maybe one shoulder, and oh geez that patch of flayed skin on her hand has gotta be hurting like a *bitch*... looks like her knee is actually torn up the worst, there's blood soaked through her jeans all around the tear, but its a *tear*, not a gaping missing chunk, so maybe her jeans took the brunt of it. I don't see blood pooling around her foot or anything, at least, so.
She's on her cell phone, can't tell if it's calling 911 or someone else... no, wait, if it was 911 they'd be on the line by now, and whatever she's saying, it isn't to them because she's saying personal names, when she's not screaming for help or praying for someone to be there (on the other end of the line). Okay, let's try to get her out of the road. C'mon, hon, here, we're dealing with it, let me help you over here, you should sit down. No, really, you need to sit down, come on and I'll help you.
Ever had a full-grown adult just *collapse* in your arms? I'm not talking about tipping over and starting to fall, or curling up, I'm talking about them still babbling and protesting while some part of their mind and/or body realizes that someone else is holding onto them (at least moderately securely), arms around them, and they can stop having to stand up now? Ooof. She wasn't particularly big, but dead weight is *dead* weight. Got her to the curb and sitting down, at least, and maybe slightly calmer, or at least talking to *me*, instead of to the world at large.
She's still trying to call someone on the cell... seems to realize that this isn't working, and that even if she gets through she's going to be incomprehensible. She hands it to me, and after a pass or two, manages to get across that she's worried about her daughter, who is currently with... I guess it was an ex-husband, at least that was the impression I got from her, and she wants to make sure that he knows she's been in an accident and that she won't be able to pick up the girl.
Okay, I've been in the land of trying to convey things that Deeply Matter even though they're probably taken care of anyway (when babbling in tongues on Dilauded, in the hospital, my recollection is that the reason I was babbling, at at least one point, had to do with questions the doctor was asking, which sort of meshes with at least Deb's perceptions of part of it). She's got the phone dialed, so I keep trying to keep her calm, and realize after a few moments that the ringing as stopped and I can maybe hear someone on the other end of the line -- barely (I would have had trouble hearing *without* the woman screaming in the other ear, the chaotic noise nearby, and such; it was a really quiet phone). I explain, as quickly as I can without *just* being garbled, that I'm calling from the scene of an accident, and I was asked to call this number and make sure that Barry knew that he needed to take care of the six-year-old daughter for a bit, but that the woman seemed to be doing okay, though she was really shaken up.
I hope I managed to get most of that across, anyway; I *really* hope I did, because I *so* would not ever want to get that kind of phone call and not get the information other than some strange guy's voice was calling from my wife's (or ex-wife's) cellphone, saying that there had been an accident, but not managing to get much else across...
About that time, someone showed up (from where, I don't know; I think he may have been just driving the road) who was a health care professional of some sort, and started bracing her neck. I'd gotten her to lie down, and from the information he had, it was the only sensible answer; probably I should have tried, but I was more worried about getting her to just calm the fuck *down*, first, and I'd seen her up and moving around when I first got there -- anything that was going to screw up her spine, she'd done long since. I hope, anyway.
Things were starting to 'kick in' around that point, in the sense that the cops, the fire department, and the ambulance all showed up within the next few moments. Seemed like an eternity, even to me, but it *can't* have been that long -- not enough people milling about gawking, though there were a few -- it just seemed like it.
The rest of the story, such as it is, isn't all that fascinating, though I have to say that I have now seen paramedic scissors do exactly what they are made to do -- cut through thick denim and open up clothing like it was paper. Okay, I'd even seen *that* before, but never while said fabric was actually on someone, and they were being used in that fashion.
Backboards and cervical collars all around, of course, but they got the pair bundled up and rolled down the road to the nearest hospital (whose ER I can vouch for, and the place is less than a mile away).
I remember her freaking out at both us, and the paramedics, and really wishing I had some way to get it through to her -- the instant that someone told me he was talking (well before the cops arrived), I knew that he was at a lot less risk than I had feared. There just wasn't enough blood on the scene, so if he was actually even semi-coherent, he was almost certainly going to last long enough for the paramedics to arrive, even if he had internal injuries. They kill, but not *that* fast, and it was a major road with multiple routes through to it, and the nearest fire department wasn't much further away than the hospital -- ambulances don't always come with hospitals, but I know for a fact that firefighters come with enough medical kit to stabilize someone who isn't already dead, at least until the paramedics arrive, unless the person is literally at death's door when they show up, or the ambulance is a long, LONG time away.
I guess the other part of what made me come down here was that I keep having this stray thought rolling around about the 'measure of a man' (sorry, ladies, 'human', but that isn't the traditional phrase, and in some ways it *is* a culturally biased thing, even if that makes no damned sense) being taken when you put him into a crisis. I did what I could... I think. Did I do the right thing(s)? Were there things I should have known, should have seen, should have paid more attention to? I know that I know more about handling such than a lot of people, and I've had more practice than just about anyone who doesn't do it for a living, for various reasons... but it also highlights that in most things that you can really call a crisis, you really don't know shit, apart from *maybe* the barest basics if you're lucky, and you're flying by the seat of your pants, making judgment calls as best you can, because you don't have the luxury of time to reflect on it until it's too late to do anything different.
[Editing note: these are rhetorical questions, not requests for answers]
Should I have taken care of the guy, despite there being two other folks of unknown ability already doing so?
Was there someone more qualified to deal with the woman? Should I have done what I did, or did I somehow do the wrong thing?
Should I have been bothered by the guy's leg? I mean, I know folks who get sick at the *discussion* of an injury like that, and I know a lot more folks who either get ill at the sight or concrete concept, or get morbidly curious. I... didn't have any real reaction at all, other than cataloging it as an important fact while triaging him. I wasn't even detached, not in the way that I've felt some times when I *had* to distance myself from something to avoid freaking out about it at a time when I couldn't afford that. I mean, the guy was twisted up like a pretzel, but it just... was what it was. The only reason I don't worry more about it being a little sociopathic is because I *did* care, I wanted to help, and I understood that it had to be hurting like hell if he was conscious (at first, it wasn't at all clear). But the facts of the situation were just simple facts.
I did realize, somewhat later, that I was having my own after-effects. Mostly because my hand was shaking so badly, when I tried to put together some circuit pieces, that I could not get the leads to go into the circuit board holes. That was *after* a good hour of weed trimming that I did, plus cooling down and relaxing, all of which only happened after basically everyone but the last cop had left the scene (I hung around until I was certain that we had all been politely dismissed, in that "thank you all, we really appreciate it" way that is quite sincere, but somehow also has the undertone of "... and would you please all go back to your lives so I don't have to worry about all of *you* still being on the scene, especially now that it isn't even a scene anymore?")
Anyway, its time that I went to bed now, so I guess I'm going to post this and come back to it later. I've sort of run down, anyway, and I'm not sure what else to say about it.
Oh, other than this:
It was a not-so-minor miracle that the woman didn't have head injuries. The man *did*, but I don't know how bad, other than the gash on his forehead not being a terrible bleeder. But neither one was wearing a helmet, or real leathers. They were at least wearing jeans, but the woman's top wasn't particularly robust. I don't recall what the man's top was, any by the time I thought to look, it had already been cut off and was somewhere in the mess of parts and fabric pieces and such that was scattered around him (and the bike). I wouldn't count on him not having some nasty consequences from that. The only reason I doubt it for her is because she was mobile and functional, or at least as much as someone in hysterics can be, immediately after, and appeared to have *no* damage to anything but her knee and her arms/hands.
It was a low-speed collision (he had time to say something about "don't pull out in front of me", apparently, which means he had time to slow down, and the road is only 35mph there, plus they were going slow enough to be able to talk, all of which means she may have been simply thrown clear of the bike and landed in a hard skid on her front, but not tons worse than I took as a kid crashing my bike, if she's lucky).
Anyway. Yeah. Really bedtime now, I'm past stream-of-consciousness and into babbling-brook mode.