Sunday, August 30, 2009

Small Miracles

Last night, a friend of mine got into an accident. He was driving along in a Vespa-type scooter and coasting down the road, and ran smack into a chain that was stretched across the entrance to the parking lot.

We were getting off a bus when we heard a screeching sound and turned around to see him absolutely laid out across the parking lot. For those who've never seen an accident, it's very sudden. No fireball, no slow-motion, no flying through the air. Just a long trail of debris, with a bike at one end and our friend at the other.

There's a pause, kind of, when your body is moving and you're saying things, but your mind is somewhere else completely. Three of us were reaching into our phones and trying to dial emergency response, some of us went to go to him, others ran to find a security guard or someone who could hail someone on the radio. This isn't the first time I've seen an accident, but just the same it might have well have been.

I believe in God. I believe in blessings. I believe in miracles. But even if you don't, something was different about that night. Here are the facts, as objective as I can remember them:

-Our friend was slowing down and coasting down the road, only hitting the chain at about 10-15 mph

-He was wearing a helmet. The helmet (at least the back part of it) crumpled and bits of it were strewn around.

-We were right there when it happened, along with other bystanders who called for help.

-A jogger was coming by with his dog. The jogger was trained in first aid. He had a pair of latex gloves with him, which he put on, got our friend to lie down straight, checked his pulse, made sure he could feel his extremities, kept him still, and recognized that there was blood coming from both a head and a neck injury.

-The police and student EMS squad arrived within a few moments of each other, and did everything right by the book.

-The ambulance took him away straightaway and there wasn't any triage process at the hospital, so he could go directly to the ER.

-The jogger took three of us to the hospital so we could see him right away. The rest of us got to the hospital later, and even found parking.

-No brain or spine damage.

-We were able to leave that night/morning and bring our friend back safely.

They only let three (and later two) of us in at a time to see him, so while a couple of us went in, I waited outside. God, as always, took care of the small details: I caught the last four minutes of the Baltimore-Carolina game (Troy, unfortunately, was not in) and also found a book called Imagined Worlds, a fascinating little tract by Freeman Dyson about the issues that science and research face that go beyond technical/scientific problems- ideology, money, politics, disinformation, etc.

When we got to go inside, our friend was basically fine, other than a giant gash on his head a few minor lacerations along his neck and back. We chatted with the physician and med student attending the case, and discussed the various implications of the presence of Organic Chemistry in pre-med undergraduate curricula (the physician was grumbling about how UT-Austin is removing it from pre-med requirements, arguing that it has too little to do with actual medicine). (Side note: I always knew UT fans were the best) (Double side note: proof God exists: my friend was treated by a 'Horns fan, and not a M*ch*g*n or Gators fan)

When I went back outside, I saw on the news that another teenager had been killed in a motorcycle accident on the freeway. I don't know what that meant. I do think, though, that we were blessed.

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