My experience of a road traffic collision

Caroline Buttress

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

28 May 2019

“Mummy has to help, she’s a nurse...”

I know what you’re thinking, Caroline’s not a nurse she’s a student nurse, and you’d be right.  I’m not legally allowed to call myself a nurse until the day I qualify.  However, the reality is that the majority of my friends and family forget about my student status and often ask for my “professional” opinion regarding a variety of skin conditions, stomach complaints and ingrowing toenail problems (I’m not a foot person).  My advice is always the same “if you’re worried go and see your GP”, however recently I was met with a situation where my famous phrase was not appropriate and I had to rely on my knowledge in a real life emergency...

The three youngest children in the back discussed the fascinating discovery of a dead blackbird on the school playing field, whilst my eldest daughter, sitting in the front, proudly exhibited her latest achievement certificate (well done Jessica).  It was a pretty normal Friday afternoon school run, full of excitement for the forthcoming weekend, but the in-car animation quickly dissipated when we saw what looked to be a serious collision on the road ahead.  Nearing the incident, it was apparent that two vehicles had collided and judging by the unsettled dust, we had probably missed witnessing it by a matter of seconds.

I asked the children to sit nicely whilst I went to see if anyone needed any help and left Jessica (child #1) explaining to her younger siblings  “Mummy has to help she’s a nurse and she’s not allowed to ignore it”.  Upon approach thankfully, all people involved had exited their cars, indicating to me that there was probably no critical injuries.  One driver was wondering around aimlessly in the road and clearly in shock, I sat him down at the edge of the road and asked him if he had any pain anywhere; he confirmed that he hadn’t.  Confident that he was stable and in no immediate danger, I left him with another man who had stopped to assist and turned my attention to the occupants of the second vehicle, who by this time had made there way to the safety of another vehicle, which had also stopped to help.  Approaching the vehicle, I was met with a young mother and her three children (including a seven month old baby). Both the mother and her children were extremely distressed and understandably, she was concerned about the welfare of her children. I explained to her that I was a student nurse, that my knowledge was basic but that I would use what I did know to assess her and her children.  It transpired that the mother and her two eldest children were experiencing some chest and abdominal pain (probably associated with their seatbelts), fortunately the baby was happy, smiley and clearly enjoying the company of another lady that had stopped.  I called for an ambulance and police assistance and continued to reassure the family.

A friend who was thankfully a couple of cars behind mine took my children home, leaving me free to dedicate my full attention to the scene.  Fortunately the police attended rapidly, closing the road and generally managing the scene but the ambulance had been held up and did not arrive until 1.5hrs after it was called.  I volunteered to continue to observe the vehicle occupants and to remain on scene until medical assistance had arrived.  Both attending police officers expressed their gratitude as it enabled them to collect statements, further assess the scene, have the damaged vehicles towed away and reopen the road.

Eventually the ambulance team arrived and I handed over the relevant information to the paramedic before leaving the scene and making my way home.

Thankfully no one was seriously injured in this case and verbal reassurance was enough to calm down all involved.  I don’t consider my actions to be heroic but I definitely think that without the fantastic training that I have received throughout my university career, I would not have been able to take the lead in such a situation, nor would I have been able to confidently offer reassurance to the vehicle occupants.  Thank you ARU!


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