Note: this happened on May 19, 2017 and I wrote this post in the immediate aftermath. As a passionate cyclist, I felt guilty by association — that I was on a bus that hit a cyclist. It truly was a nightmare situation…
We go through our daily lives so caught up in our schedules, our to-do lists, and our plans. We don’t really stop to think why, nor do we ever really reflect on whether what we’re doing is important. And we assume that we’ll get through it all, perhaps with a hiccup here or there.
Yet, it can all change in an instant.
Today started out exactly like that: I woke up, went to class, went to the gym, went shopping, and as I rode the bus home, my thoughts were purely on the homework I planned to do that night. All of that was suddenly interrupted in a horrendous crashing sound as my bus ran over something. Or, at least, I thought it was *something*.
People on the side of the bus where the crushing noise came from were reacting in shock, and the bus driver suddenly pulled over. It was my stop, anyway, so I got off. When I looked back in the direction we’d come from, I was acutely aware that someone’s day had met more than just a hiccup.
Half a block back, a cyclist lay on the sidewalk, tangled in his half-crushed bike. Realizing what had happened, as well as the seriousness of the situation, I ran to the man to see if I could help.
One person at the scene had his phone out and I could hear he was calling 911. Everyone else hung back at a safe spectator distance.
I crouched down next to the man and saw blood pooling beneath his head. Yet, he was awake and trying to get up.
“Sir, you’ve just been in an accident. Please do not try to move. Can you tell me your name?”
His eyes were wide in confusion, his brow dotted with sweat. Blood trickled down from his ear. He didn’t acknowledge my question nor try to answer.
“Sir, do you feel pain anywhere? Did you hit your head?”
No responses were forthcoming, but the injured man was still looking around in confusion, with some alarm visibly creeping into his eyes as well. At this point, the man started to try getting up.
“Please, sir, try to stay still. Help is on the way to check you out.”
He became more and more agitated. His body was insistent upon getting up. The three of us who had knelt down to attend to him now felt like we had to hold him down until the paramedics could arrive.
The man put up bouts of fighting, followed by short periods of calm. During the agitation, the blood seeping out of the man’s wound was getting on us helpers. It feels shameful to say it, but I was a bit skittish – who knows what you might be exposed to – and tried my best to avoid the blood while still holding the man in place. One woman – who I would later find out was a nursing student – was not phased at all by the blood, as it got on her hands and arms. I truly admire her dedication.
Soon, the wail of the ambulance’s siren could be heard in the distance. The man was still in a state of agitation, alternatingly trying to get up and toying with the box of cigarettes in his front shirt pocket. We continued to try to keep the man calm and assured him that help was nearly there.
Finally, the paramedics arrived. They quickly asked about what had happened and set to trying to establish some baseline vitals and blood sugar levels. Despite us helpers trying to distract the man, he still proved too agitated for them to manage to get the information they needed.
After a few attempts, they were forced to the sedate the man. Finally, they could take blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and blood sugar. Working efficiently, they put on a neck brace, strapped the man to a hard stretcher and whisked him away to the hospital.
In the aftermath, us helpers looked at each other with a “what now?” look on our faces.
What now? Back to the daily schedule. Back to my homework, accepting the small hiccup that delayed it. The man who was hit, however, was not so lucky. His schedule took an unexpected turn and will not be completed as implicitly assumed and expected.
All I can do is hope that he’s okay, so that he will see days in the future with their routine schedules, to-do lists, and plans. If he does, I don’t know if he will ever take them for granted again.
Maybe that’s a lesson I can take from this horrible situation – appreciate the little things, the routines, the successful completion of another day.
To read a news report of the collision, click here.