While taking the bus from MDC Medical Campus to my home, I was on the M-119 Metrobus when it collided with a FedEx truck at the intersection of NW 17th Street and 7th Avenue. The FedEx truck was traveling south on 7th Ave and took the red light. The Metrobus driver slammed on the brakes but it wasn’t enough and the delivery truck crashed onto the front of the bus. Channel 7 News has a report on their website with some video where you can see the scene from the air, but this is a pic I took a few minutes after the collision (click for larger version).

And here are five other pics.

I didn’t really see what happened, as I was looking down at my phone when I heard people gasp, the brakes screech, the two vehicles slam and people cry out as they flew about the bus. I was sitting at the back, by the rear door, and thankfully tensed up automatically and did not move from my seat, though I did suffer a glancing blow to the forehead where my head hit a tube. It was a few seconds, then it all stopped. People started to cry, and complain of pain. Our last stop had been Jackson Hospital and we had two wheelchair-bound riders as well as a few elderly and an obese lady who literally flew like 5 feet from her seat and landed near the entrance to the bus.

I am fine, overall. After making sure I wasn’t bleeding I helped out the people around me. A man was lying on the floor next to me; he had been tossed like 4 feet from the back of the bus and could not get up. A young guy across from me slammed his chest onto the hard plastic of the seat in front of him and had acute pain. A lady behind me hurt her hand as she tried to wedge herself against the jolt. And so on.

The whole event served to remind me why I want to be a nurse: I hated the feeling of uselessness as I sat there with all these people in pain and need around me.

I know, it’s only been three weeks of class, but I wanted to do more, help people more. I wanted to tell the guy with the chest pain what to do to minimize that pain; the man on the floor what to do to make sure nothing was broken; the lady with the hurt hand how to put it so it would hurt less. But I couldn’t because I don’t know yet what to do. I kept racing through what we’ve learned in class, in skills lab, in my readings, and nothing useful would come up. It was frustrating. So I did what I could: I helped make sure people were ok, calm. I moved from person to person, asking them how they felt, if I could help them with anything. Most said they were fine. I helped some sit better on their seats, I helped retrieve stuff that had flown about and give it back to the owners, helped the guy with the chest pain calm down and take slower, less painful breaths. The EMTs took it from there once they arrived.

It was about an hour later, as I walked to the nearby train station to finally get home, that it dawned on me that I had indeed helped out. I wrote about Nursing Diagnoses, and while I cannot state for sure any specific diagnosis and interventions, I wouldn’t be off the mark saying that my mind assessed a diagnosis of Anxiety Related To Vehicular Accident on those people around me. My intervention was to ask open questions of each person to assess how I could ease their anxiety at my level of proficiency. I was then able to evaluate progress by reading their body postures and facial expressions.

Listen, I’m not saying I actually thought of all this as I helped people out, but the fact remains that it is how the nursing process applies and is put into effect on a subconscious level. Were I a regular person, I would’ve been simply helping out. As a nurse student, I was engaging in basic practice of the principles of my new profession. And you know what? Once I realized this, I felt better because I did help out in the one way I could.

I wasn’t planning on being in an accident today, and thank G-d I wasn’t hurt. But I was there for whatever reason, and it was my duty to provide help in any way I could. I can honestly say that, while I may not have been able to help at a physiological level those hurt around me, at least I was able to provide actual care well within the scope of nursing, and see a positive reaction to it. And that felt pretty damn good.

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