Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Motor Vehicle Accident

This weekend was the first weekend I haven't been on call in one way or another for 3 wks. On Saturday, I was looking forward to playing tennis, gardening, making some pillow cases for my nephews, and just relaxing. I had already accomplished some of that when Cilla rode her bike to my house at like 1230 and said there was a car accident and her dad was asking for my help. I quickly changed into scrubs and headed down to the ER.
Car accidents here are never a good thing. Too often the vehicles are PMVs (public motor vehicles) who have 10-20 people in the back of an open bed truck of some sort, which ends up flipping over and throwing everyone out. This one was an open bed truck vs. semi - the semi won.
When I got to the ER it was full of patients, nursing students, wasman, security guards, nurses, other hospital workers, and Jim and Scott. Patients were on beds, the floor, trolleys in the OPD area and in exam rooms. One of the blessings of our hospital is that when something like this happens, everyone mobilizes to help out - students who aren't working, workers who aren't in the ER, etc, all come to pitch in. Jim was telling me how he was doing things and then I quickly started assessing patients that hadn't been seen yet.
One of my patients was the wife of the driver, she had a femur fracture, a dislocated wrist, and neck pain. We put a collar on her, got Xrays of her neck and extremities, and then set her up in traction, reduced her wrist and sent her to the ward. My second patient had a large scalp laceration, but otherwise had no major injuries.
My third patient, Dolly about 20, didn't appear to have any major injuries initially. She was uncooperative, but wasn't really saying anything hurt her. She had a head laceration, but that was all I initially found. While Jim was helping me with the tibial traction pin on my first lady, she really started to get uncooperative. I went back for a second assessment and now found her abdomen quite tender. I grabbed the ultrasound machine and found free fluid in her abdomen. We quickly got her an IV, blood, and got her ready for surgery. We watched her initially and when her hemoglobin didn't go up after blood, and her vitals got more unstable, Jim took her to surgery and repaired her splenic laceration.
Unfortunately, Dolly's parents didn't fare as well as she did in the accident. Her mom wasn't alive when she came to us. Her dad was confused and unstable when he presented to us. Jim put a chest tube in him and he seemed to be doing better, but later went into cardiac arrest, and passed away in the ER. Another lady who was pregnant, also passed away with massive head injuries shortly after she came in. Her husband was asking if there was anyway we could help the baby or her by doing a Csection to remove the baby. Unfortunately, she had a massive head injury so doing a Csection wouldn't have helped and the baby was too small to survive outside of mom.
A group of people got into a truck yesterday on their way somewhere and now 4 are no longer on this earth. Although my day yesterday didn't go exactly how I planned it, I am thankful that I have another day to live. Another volunteer saw me yesterday after the accident. As we were talking we heard people crying at the morgue over those who had passed away and she asked how I was doing. I have seen too many people die and have told too many family members that there isn't anything more medically I can do for them except pray to be devastated by the patients who passed away. However, it still doesn't make it easy to walk away from the ER knowing 4 patients didn't make it. I know the Lord is in control of all of our lives and knows the number of days that we each have. Ps 139:16 "And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." I know it sure reminds me that you never know when the time to meet the Lord is coming so it is important to make the most of each day, to love lots, and obey what God has called you to.