So. I had one of the wildest experiences of my life today.
I went to Starbucks today to get a cup of coffee. I’ve gone to the same place several times a week for the last four years. One of my favorite Baristas was there; we always share a bit of conversation and she makes a fantastic Macchiato. There’s another reason why she’s one of my favorites…
I was hanging out at the Fire Department, helping to teach a bunch of Rookies when we got dispatched for a car accident. I secured my place on the Rescue Engine and we were off. The dispatch was for a two vehicle MVC, one patient entrapped.
On scene, I began normal rescue duties as the ambulance was already there. I chalked the vehicle, cut the battery, and was setting up the extrication tools when one of the supervisors came over to me. He asked me to help with the medical side of the extrication as the EMTs that were in the vehicle were brand new and had no clue what to do.
I walked over and the EMT nearly kissed my boots. Looking in the vehicle, there was a young woman screaming her head off; the steering wheel had collapsed down on her lap, pinning her in the vehicle. Her left foot was contorted at a funny angle and she was complaining of chest pain. I knelt down next to her and I put a hand on her shoulder.
“Ma’am. My name is Shao, I’m here to help.”
She looked over at me and started crying. She kept saying her chest and leg hurt. I directed the EMTs to put a collar on her and hold C Spine while I did a quick trauma assessment. Slipping a NRB over her face, I calmly told her that the Oxygen would help and that her ankle was broken.
I looked down and blood was pouring onto the floorboard. Her BP was low; 92/60 and her heart rate was sky high: 134. I looked at her, a gentle smile on my face.
“We’re going to get an IV started on you and I’m going to try to stop the bleeding from your ankle…”
I unzipped her boot and her entire boot was filled with blood. A decent sized section of her Tibia was sticking out of the wound and even applying direct pressure wasn’t stopping the bleeding. I tried wrapping her leg, but due to the buckles and snaps on the boot, I couldn’t get it wrapped properly. I pulled out my trusty pink shears and I looked up at her.
“Ma’am…I’m going to have to cut off your boot.”
“No!!!” She began grabbing my arm, “Please! I just bought them! Just take the boot off!!”
I shook my head as I held onto her hand. I went ahead and ducked under the blanket as they were about ready to pull the steering wheel up.
“Your ankle is so badly fractured, it’ll hurt more for me to pull off the boot than it will for me to cut it off. I have to stop the bleeding…”
She started crying, but she stopped hitting me. I made short work of the boot and had the bleeding stopped within moments. While I was working, all she kept saying was, “My boot…my boot!”
With a proper wrap, we quickly extricated her from the car. She held my hand all the way to the ambulance and I got the Holy Hazmaticus from my Line Officer to accompany her to the Landing Zone. In the ambulance, she quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Her last words to me?
“Why did you cut my boot?”
About six months later, I saw her while I was out shopping. It’s not hard to recognize me; I’m a black chick with pink hair. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for helping her. I then realized she worked at the local Starbucks and we’d always have a nice chat every time I’d go in. As I said up top, it also helped that she made a freaking good cup of coffee. We never really talked about the accident outside of when I asked her if she bought a new pair of boots. She said she e-mailed the company asking where she could find a similar pair as they were just out of style and they sent her a new pair when she explained what happened to the first pair.
Today, when I went to get my coffee, she was there. We had our normal conversation while she made my coffee. The place was busy, but not obscenely so. She handed me my cup and this is what I saw:
She then says:
“You saved my life exactly three years ago, today. Thank you.”
I could barely get out a “You’re welcome.” I was stunned. I can honestly count the times I’ve gotten a Thank You from a patient or patients’ family and every time it happens, it leaves me speechless. I was just doing my job…the job I love and can’t get enough of, and she was so grateful for the less than thirty minutes I spent with her. I know she had taken time and had sent a very lovely fruit basket and card to both the Fire Department and EMS Department, but being singled out for a thank you was so unexpected it was overwhelming.
Have fun and Be safe.