Witnessed car crash, now feeling guilty

Nurses General Nursing

Published

I have horses that I board at a stable near my home. There is an intersection across the street from the barn where it seems some idiot does not stop at the stop sign and gets hit by oncoming traffic at least weekly. We have become acustomed to the sound of the crash, and I usually go and check it out just to make sure everyone is moving/talking and does not need 911 called.

Well, it happened yesterday and it sounded like a big crash, which it was. I walked towards the road to check it out. The guy in car #1 was already out and talking on his cell, walking around just fine, so I did not worry about him. The driver of car #2 was out and walking, only a slight limp but walking and talking. She had a passenger who did not get out of the car, but the driver was standing there and I could see the passenger talking to her and moving. They also already had cells out and were dialing.

So, I just observed from across the street for a few minutes and even though I did not see the passenger of #2 get out of the car, she was talking to the driver and the driver did not seem upset so I figured everything was under control and went back to cleaning my stalls. Next thing I know one of them (I did not see which one) was being loaded into an ambulance on a backboard!

I know it might have been just precautionary, but now I am feeling very guilty for not walking across the street and checking things out closer. Not that I could have done anything but keep everyone calm til the ambulance got there, but I can't shake this feeling of what-if. Especially since I don't know the outcome of the situation. I normally reason that as long as everyone is conscious and not bleeding profusely, I am not going to be much help. Did I do the right thing by staying out of it? What would YOU have done?

glamorousgirl07

174 Posts

In 2009, it may have been a blessing ... people are a very SUE happy its unfortunate you have to think about that when you just want to help people. I hope they were okay .

oramar

5,758 Posts

They only thing I would have done differently was make sure the EMS system was activated by phone call. I know you assumed the people were on the phone to EMS but you might be surprised, the first person people sometimes call is their lawyer. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I resist the temptation to walk out onto a busy road. You could easily become the next victim. I don't believe they can sue you for not assisting but they sure could view you as another source of income if you did assist.

ShayRN

1,046 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Cardiac, Hospice.

To OP, I don't think that there was anything you would have been able to do in that situation. Don't feel guilty.

As a side note, how so very, very sad that there are so many people who are afraid of being sued that you wouldn't help. I was involved in a lawsuit last year and while it wasn't fun it also wasn't the end of the world. Luckily, just because they sue you doesn't mean that they will win.

Specializes in LTC.

I know I'm just a student but I agree with the other posters. I was told by my instructor that if nurses are around the scene of an accident and does not help out but she identifies herself as a nurse, then she can be held accountable for not helping. I guess its just a catch 22 !

I heard that even when book a flight they ask if you are a medical profession. Now I believe releasing that info. is optional. When I go on my flight in Aug. I think I'll refrain from telling them that I'm a nurse.

Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS.

To the OP, don't be surprised about the backboard. It was a car crash, those involved would likely have had full spinal precautions if they wanted to go to the hospital anyway.

I would have called 911 to make sure EMS was en route.

Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS.
I heard that even when book a flight they ask if you are a medical profession. Now I believe releasing that info. is optional. When I go on my flight in Aug. I think I'll refrain from telling them that I'm a nurse.

I fly a lot and have never heard of this before....where does this happen?

netglow, ASN, RN

4,412 Posts

Just because you are an RN it is not on you to be available 24/7 to save the world. And, calling EMS is in everybody's best interest. :up:

oramar

5,758 Posts

I know I'm just a student but I agree with the other posters. I was told by my instructor that if nurses are around the scene of an accident and does not help out but she identifies herself as a nurse, then she can be held accountable for not helping. I guess its just a catch 22 !

I heard that even when book a flight they ask if you are a medical profession. Now I believe releasing that info. is optional. When I go on my flight in Aug. I think I'll refrain from telling them that I'm a nurse.

I was going to mention in my post that when I call EMS I never say, "I am a nurse, I am a nurse". I think that is bad idea.

Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,978 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing.

Thanks for all the replies, I am feeling better. You are right, I should have called 911 just to make sure it was reported. Next time I will do so.

Still, if I had it to do over again (and given the number of accidents at this location, I probably will!), I would have walked over just to make sure everyone was ok, while or after calling 911. The more I thought about it, there could have been a child or other victim in the car that I could not see. I would probably not identify myself as a nurse, given the advice here. Thanks to all!

oramar

5,758 Posts

Thanks for all the replies, I am feeling better. You are right, I should have called 911 just to make sure it was reported. Next time I will do so.

Still, if I had it to do over again (and given the number of accidents at this location, I probably will!), I would have walked over just to make sure everyone was ok, while or after calling 911. The more I thought about it, there could have been a child or other victim in the car that I could not see. I would probably not identify myself as a nurse, given the advice here. Thanks to all!

Sounds like a bad road and most likely there will be more accidents. Just remember that a certain number of highway deaths are related to people attempting to render assistance on a road and getting hit by a car passing the wreck. In the last year a off duty police officer was killed in just that way not to far from my house. So just remember to keep you own safety first. You sound like a nice person and you sound like you have the best of intentions.

Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,978 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing.

Thank you! It is a moderately busy road, but there is a huge median, so I think I can stay safe if I keep my eyes open. I just don't want to feel that sinking feeling again like I did when I saw the ambulance. I just assumed all were ok and there was nothing I can do to help. Next time I think I will make sure that is the case! I will definitely keep my safety first, as I am no good to anyone if I am dead!

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