Her door is jammed, the impact pushing the metal into itself, sealing the passenger compartment. Her car is demolished. Shattered glass covers her, blood pours from her eyes. I look quickly to see if the pupils are responsive. They are. The drivers door is only stuck a little, I pry it open and reach in. Sheâ€™s dazed, asks the same question over and over, forgetting the answer as soon as I tell her. Blood soaks the back of her head, I check for a trail to see if that is the source of her bloody eyes and find it is not, her eyes are bleeding.
Brian brings a backboard, we move it past the drivers seat and under her. I lean over and in, slicing my gloves on the glass that covers the passenger compartment. I find out later my blood and hers have mixed, my fingers are sliced open. I protect her head and neck by applying a cervical collar, then gently lean her into the board and lie her down. She tells me her head hurts. Iâ€™m not surprised. We pull her out of the wreckage and push her through the debris filled highway. Six or seven cars are involved, three more rescues are on the way. My patient appears to be the worst, the others are out of their cars, one leans against a jersey Barrier, his bloody head in his hands. Teresa is on scene and attends to him. We put our patient in the rescue and close the chaos out.
Sheâ€™s conscious, but barely. Her limbs show no deformity and her vital signs are stable. An IV goes in, then another. Just a drip, Iâ€™m worried about the head injury. She says it hurts, bad. I loosen the collar and put my hand behind her head. Itâ€™s as soft as a pillow. But not as nice. The edge of her skull stops, and disappears into a mass of broken bone and brain matter. I hadnâ€™t expected that, missed it the first time, while wedged into the car.
We bonded then, this stranger and me, instantly connected more intimately than anybody who hasnâ€™t held a crushed skull in their hands could imagine. Energy runs through all of us, and at times between us, our life force passed on in times of crisis, whether we want it to or not. I check her eyes again and secure the collar.
Then we roll. The non-re-breather covers most of her face, but not her eyes. They donâ€™t look as bright. As we approach the ER, she closes them.