It’s not every day that an average citizen gets the opportunity to be first to respond at a major car accident, but such was my lot last Wednesday afternoon. I was first on scene and among the last to leave.
I had just finished an intense and productive meeting with my new team; my first official intro to the whole iCAN staff and business (read more about that here). My brain was swirling with ideas and well… overwhelm.
Thoughts about my productivity, competence, home-life balance and general worthiness coupled with deep thrill and drive and pulsed in me, like those feelings were alive. I was on my way home, anticipating the quiet that a long drive offers; keen on processing all these thoughts with no one but myself and the open road, looking forward to making it home for the family dinner I had prepared at 6:00 am that morning.
G-d had other plans.
I didn’t see the crash happen; I arrived about 10 or 15 seconds after, but I did see three cars full of shocked victims staggering out of their totaled vehicles, seeking the shelter of solid ground. I pulled my car to the side, threw on my hazards, and locked the doors.
Because, this is Israel.
Smashed cars and stunned and bloodied people milling about in the middle of a dark road could mean a lot of different things. (Thank you primal-brain for self-protection reflexes). Seconds later, after I had processed what I was seeing, I got out of the car with my cell phone, assessed, and called for an ambulance.
There was a man in a green sweatshirt and torn pants doubled over in pain screaming for help, “Call an ambulance!” “Help the baby!” His wife, an elegantly dressed woman with turquoise heels and a dark blue hijab, in the full arms of shock was holding a car seat with her 10 month old baby inside with a visibly shaking arm. The baby was rosy-cheeked and half-smiling. She was fine.
I helped her position herself against a small wall, showed her that her baby was fine, found her some water, and instructed another woman, who could communicate with her in Arabic, to support her until the ambulance arrived.
On the opposite street corner there was a young man holding a woman in his lap, his arms wrapped around her, like he was cradling a baby. He was rocking her back and forth. She too was in shock; shaking and crying.
“Five injured. Road 652. Bottom of the street.”
A few long, minutes later the first ambulance came. The mother, father and baby were taken first. We called for another ambulance and waited for more help while I held the young woman in my arms, as her boyfriend took a little break and assessed his own wounds. She had been in the passenger seat (now smashed to about 1/3 of its original size), her boyfriend was driving.
I did my best to keep her warm, and her head and body stable. I tried to keep her engaged enough that she wouldn’t pass out, which she desperately wanted to do. I encouraged her to notice things around her, listen to my voice, take a few sips of juice I happened to have (because, I’m a mom), steady her breath and “stay with me” until the ambulance arrived. “Breathe with me… in and out, in and out. You’re doing great.” (The ten plus years I spent as doula served me well).
Eventually, the second ambulance arrived, we got her on the stretcher and off they went to the hospital.
And… I got back in my car, and headed home.
The quiet I had been craving was waiting for me in plenty… too much quiet. I needed to talk. I called my man, my rock, and explained that I would be late for dinner, not only because our meeting ran late, but because I had a little road-side triage to take care of (#SuperMom).
As we spoke and I unwound my thoughts into his receptive ears, I understood a few things about myself and how I show up to the world. I realized how I went from feeling overwhelmed in my meeting, to feeling entirely capable at the scene of that crash. I recognized how totally grateful I was to have been given the ability to serve. And, I noticed that although my role in this scene was actually quite small, I knew it was also important, and therefore, pretty darn big after all.
It’s amazing how much more productive the act of “processing” can be, when the nitty-gritties of real-life get thrown into the mix.
Ultimately, this first aid experience reminded me a lot about myself and what I can do. It helped me take stock of the skills I bring to the world’s table and to my team’s table. The speed at which life can shift can make you dizzy (especially when you work for a start-up business in the cannabis industry) but as long as my core is strong, my purpose is clear, and my support people are in place, I think I’m going to be just fine… and as far as I can tell so far, really enjoy this ride.
Here’s to having the eyes to see the lessons everywhere, and may the learning be sweet and kind.
(For the record, the crash-victims were released from the hospital that same night with nothing much more than painful scratches and bruises).