Today, after pulling an all-nighter for last night’s search, team member Wilma Murray was trying to shake the cobwebs by taking her dog for a walk when she was suddenly called upon to exercise her medical skills:
“We came upon a group of men converged on the sidewalk. They were gathered around a young man who sat (in a rather crumpled position) up against a retaining wall.
The men were asking him if he was all right and what they could do for him. As I approached, I was told one of the men had seen him sitting there an hour before and when he returned, the young man was still in place. I asked the subject a few questions and getting no response, I took a closer look. His eyeballs were rapidly flickering and he was clearly in distress. I asked one of the men to call 9-1-1, asked another to please hold my dog's leash and explained I was trained in first aid.
I bent down to the subject's level and introduced myself. My request for consent was met with a vague noise I took to be affirmative. I had no gloves with me (lesson learned), so I had to barehand it. I continued to try to get a response from him and was able, after repeated tries, to get his first and last names. His pulse was 120, respiration 24, forehead cold and clammy but face very hot. But it was the lack of awareness and the rapidly moving eyeballs that most concerned me.
I saw no visible mechanism of injury or blood and did not conduct a head to toe (another lesson learned) as I instead busied myself with trying to get him comfortable leaning against me while trying to elicit information from him. One of the men handed me a bottle of water and I was able to get the subject to sip a few times. When help arrived, I gave the responders the subject's name, his vitals and told them what I had observed.
It took six strong men to lift this very thin young man onto a stretcher. The subject then began to seize and they had to strap him down before loading him into the ambulance. I have no idea if he will be all right, but I can only hope.
Once again, SAR training proved invaluable, but I was made painfully aware of how easy it is to make mistakes or not be thorough enough in a real-life situation. It only encourages me to practice, practice, practice. The good news is that my training kept me calm throughout the whole experience. Thank you SAR!”