As A Human

Today was supposed to be rough. I knew I had to get up before dawn, hit two jobs up north, then hit one more back up in the mountains. I was destined to drive for 8-10 hours and do three jobs in between, while trying to get close enough back home to hang out with the family tomorrow.

This kind of hard I can manage. Getting up early, driving, and working is just part of life. The day was just going to be long. That was okay-we have a good life with the business, even if it does mean crazy plans and long hours some days.

So, I made it to my parent’s shop at 8 and met up with my dad. He was going to have me follow him to the first job, out on a buffalo ranch. We hadn’t made it a mile down the road when he hit the brakes, threw his hazards on and started pulling over. I looked up to see one car rolling slowly off into a ditch and people running out.

Enough people were responding that I dialed 911 as I pulled over. They asked a lot of questions I probably should have been able to answer, like how many vehicles and is anyone injured? I’d called before checking anybody out but I thought the cops should be on there way as soon as possible. The road was partially blocked and there was debris everywhere. Luckily, they said they were sending an ambulance anyway.

I fretted for a while, in my truck, about what to do. Would I be in the way? Could I even help? Finally I headed over anyway to see if anyone needed any basic aid. I didn’t have much, but I at least have tourniquets and minor stuff, gauze and gloves, in my truck. The guy in the car, the one in the ditch, had gotten up and out and taken someplace to sit down. I found my dad by the other vehicle.

That guy wasn’t so lucky. As I write this, I don’t know how he fared. When they first got to him, I guess he was at least moving and had a strong pulse. By the time I made it, he was slouched, drooling, and not breathing much. My dad couldn’t find a pulse in his wrist but I got a faint one in his neck. Faint, but there.

I talked to the guy a little, even unresponsive, but I couldn’t do anything. By the time the first cop arrived (who happened to have been a paramedic previously, thank the stars), the guy was turning blue. He’d stopped breathing. Heart was going, but barely.

This cop kicked ass. He pulled the guy out of the car, got an AED on him and started doing chest compression. If the guy lives, he owes it to that cop.

The hardest time I’m having with this is the fact that I didn’t know what to do. I know, I know-I called 911, stayed with the guy, but that doesn’t mean much. Moving him without having any training in anything was a terrible idea, but I had no idea what to do while he slowly died. I could have even held his hand and talked to him more, but I was terrified. I wasn’t Helping.

Blood and gore don’t get me, at least not until I’ve taken care of whatever the emergency was. I just can’t shake that feeling of being helpless to provide aid to another human. The classes are available. The training is available. I’m on the road so much that seeing accidents is unavoidable. We’ve been pretty lucky, but eventually you’re right there. You see the person not look and pull out, or swerve, or merge with someone in their blind spot. It happens every day and some days, we’re right there.

This is all on me, and I get that. I called 911. I checked to see if there was anything within my limited powers I could do for the guy. I gave the Awesome Cop all the limited info I had. Nobody expected me to know CPR. Nobody expects me to know what to do in a situation like that. I didn’t even see the crash, I could have turned around and left, no blood, no gore, no sleepless nights.

Fuck that. We’re all humans. It’s enough for me that I want to help people. If the least I can do is take a first aid/CPR/AED class, then I should do it. I owe my other humans that. There are no reasons why I should not do my damndest to be of the greatest help to others that I can be. It’s part of being a Humanist-we have to take care of each other as best as we can. I did that today, I did my best, but I could be Better. Although it’s not expected and not my responsibility, it’s what I need to do just in case I can help somebody someday. If I don’t, and I can’t, I’ve failed. The need for these particular skills is staring me in the face, telling me to either find the classes and take the time, or be useless again, next time. 

We have such a problem with this Me culture in the US. It’s the American way, we want to make our lives good with as little bother as possible; helping others doesn’t fit in that very well. I had somebody once tell me about vaccines, when asked about spreading potentially fatal & preventable illnesses like the flu, that it “wasn’t their problem”. That attitude horrifies me-yeah, somebody’s aging grandfather or tiny infant isn’t your problem, but it should be. There should be enough love in your heart that it is. Flu vaccines are such a minor example, but it boils down to this: they’re humans. If I can protect, and potentially save, another human by getting the flu shot, shouldn’t I? Doesn’t that do the greatest good for the most people?

I used to consider myself a libertarian. To this day I don’t disagree with the philosophy, but the ideology has a fatal flaw: it’s predicated largely on the idea that humans are good, caring, and want to help one another. It assumes that we have enough love for everyone to ask strangers if they’re all right, to stop and help if someone gets injured, and to give to those in need. But that’s not the case.

We need a major paradigm shift in the US. I don’t want to rant about health care and politics, but it’s not fixed until the least amongst us aren’t terrified of going to the doctor for fear of the cost. Our emergency rooms shouldn’t be full of people unable to take their sniffling kids to a family care physician. It saddens me that people won’t get the same care I can get, just because I can pay over $400 a month for our health insurance. All because people have fool notions of needing to earn enough to deserve a doctor, and spoiling others by providing for them. Honestly, I’m ready to give more so that others can live healthy, happy and long. We all should be willing to do that.

The accident today shook me up pretty bad. I wish I knew how the guy was doing. It really wasn’t the accident itself that has me on edge, it was being useless. Unable to help. I can fix that because someday, I could help somebody. Someday, you could help somebody. Find the classes. Get trained. Look out for strangers. There’s plenty of good people in the world, and they’ll look out for you, too. I can only make the world better by making myself better, and I think this was a good notice to me, from the universe.

Here’s a link to the American Red Cross Course Finder. Join me in getting trained so we can help others as best we can.

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4 thoughts on “As A Human

  1. I think basic first aid classes on general principle are a fantastic idea. But know, my talking to him you probably saved his life by keeping him focused and as conscious as e could be. With head injuries and trama, that’s key.

  2. Good on you. Your post made me think of this old poem. (You’ll have to forgive me for being that guy who replies with a poem)

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    Also, fun fact; in parts of Europe the sort of first aid classes you’re looking into are offered by the modern descendants of the knights hospitaller.

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