Driving to work this morning, I was late. I take the exit ramp of Route 6, the trans-Israel highway, when I see a cop up ahead at the intersection. I slow down and see to my right, a large van on fire. I ask him if he needs a "chovesh" (EMT). He almost grabs me out of my van yelling "yes, yes"
I put on my EMT vest as I get out of the car, grabbing my EMT equipment (I volunteer) and see 3 vans all smashed up in the intersection...people running everywhere, some bleeding, some limping. A policeman brings over a walking wounded with a head wound. I tell the policeman to sit him down at the side of the road which I look for the more critically wounded. I hear the police yelling at the MDA (Magen David Adom/Israel Emergency Services) dispatcher to send lots of ambualnces.
Then I see in front of me, 2 people trying to do CPR on a person. I sruvey the scene for more victims, as they start yelling for equipment. I give out gloves to everyone and take out my oxygen balloon. I give the pair an Ambo breathing Oxygen mask+pump, grab a bystander and show him how to hold the person's head, while the pair continues CPR. I try to look into the badly mangled van and see more people in bad shape. I grab a support collar for someone to put it on one of the people who's unconcious.
I've trained for situations like this, and part of you goes into automatic mode; ignoring the pain, the scenes, the blood everywhere. The other part of me is having a slight problem comprehending the enormity of the situation. The ambulances start showing up, and I feel alot better, having fellow MDA people around. We start evaluating people...there are lots...10, 20...30 of them. We need to move the badly wounded away from the van. Fire trucks help cut the van open to extricate the wounded. Suddenly, while helping with CPR on a person, a rain of glass covers us, as the firemen smash the back window of the van open.
MDA doctor came over and declared the person dead...move on to someone else.
An hour later, I drove home to change, shower, and try to go back to work. Its only starting to hit me now...doing CPR on someone who doesn't make it. The chest thrusts where I can feel the ribs are all broken up inside. The limp head, as I help someone keep it stable. The listless eyes of someone who was alive minutes earlier.
I'm lucky. 30 seconds earlier, and my van would have been hit too, and I could be there lying on the ground, clinically dead.
Didn't save anyone this time...but I'll keep trying.