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Witnessed car crash, now feeling guilty

Posted

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

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?

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 .

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

Specializes in Corrections, Cardiac, Hospice. Has 18 years experience.

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.

NurseLoveJoy88, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 6 years experience.

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.

Medic2RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS. Has 15 years experience.

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.

Medic2RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS. Has 15 years experience.

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?

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:

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

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

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!

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

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

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!

Cindy-san

Specializes in CCU & CTICU.

Ditto the spinal fracture precautions.

I think it was for the best. It's not like they were bleeding all over the interstate and screaming for help.

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 flew several times less than a month ago and no one asked me anything of the sort.

ERNurseToBe

Specializes in caretaking.

I think that maybe a letter to your local city council, mayor, highway partrol, etc stating how many accidents and so forth you witness at this intersection would be the best pro-active action. Maybe, if they get enough feedback, they will put in a light, or make the intersection safer.

As to feeling guilty, nothing to be guilty for. Just because you became a nurse does not make you responsible to help 24/7. If that was true, then lawyers should stop at every accident as well as medical...

labcat01, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, CVICU.

Don't beat yourself over it. You can play "what ifs" all day. What if the passenger in the other car was angry and pulled a gun? It is a crazy world and you do have to think of your own safety first. You made a good faith effort to make sure everyone looked ok- I wouldn't feel too bad about this.

As for identifying yourself as a nurse, it is different in every state. In Texas, you are under no obligation to stop and render aid unless you were personally involved in the crash.

NurseLoveJoy88, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 6 years experience.

Ditto the spinal fracture precautions.

I think it was for the best. It's not like they were bleeding all over the interstate and screaming for help.

I flew several times less than a month ago and no one asked me anything of the sort.

This is where I live.

pagandeva2000, LPN

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health.

My friend called me this morning to share a similar story. She works nights and went outside to smoke a cigarette. We cannot smoke on the grounds, so she walked to the sidewalk. She saw a person walking strange and at first, she thought he was someone who had cerebral palsy (we have such a facility two blocks down from us) and then, about 8 feet from her, he falls flat on his face. The first thing she thought of then, was maybe this person wanted to set a trap for her so she can come close and then he grab and mug her (this happened to a nurse last year). She was about to run, but then, she did shout to him "Are you okay?" and he shouted "No" and she ran into the hospital to get a security guard. The guard recognized him as one of the alcoholic frequent flyers (still had on his ID band from being discharged from us the night before) who constantly comes there to dry out, make a scene and drive the ER absolutely insane.

My friend felt a bit bad, too, but I told her that she did see if he was alive, she had a right to be concerned about her personal safety and she did go and get help. They called the ER staff who came out and got the man (I am sure that when they saw who it was, they probably frowned, but hey...).

I don't believe you did anything wrong.

HippyGreenPeaceChick

Specializes in ER and Home Health. Has 2 years experience.

We have what is called a "Positive CPS" Its a neuro check. Positive Cell Phone Sign, if they are using their cell phones then most likely they are ok.

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