To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Year 4: Part 3: Post 5: Being Nice

This morning was our last day on the Island, and an unexpectedly eventful morning it was. We were packing up our various campsites when somebody screamed. I was at Lo’s site, of course, and she and I looked up from our work, concerned.

“Was that one of ours?” she asked.
“What was that?” asked David at the same time.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s ours,” I said. “Do they need help?”
“What can we do? Where are they?” asked Lo, wide-eyed.
“Let’s go check the student sites,” suggested Julie. “If they’re all ok, we can look and see if it’s somebody else.” She’s a pretty practical kid.

The campground is big, but not huge, and it’s faster to run than to drive because all the loop roads are one-way and narrow. The screamer was, indeed, one of ours. Crystal had been up on the roof of one of the vans, tying down some equipment, when she fell off. Her foot caught in the roof rack for a moment as she fell and she lay on the ground with her foot pointing entirely the wrong way.

The yearlings had all just taken the required first aid course and several of them were busy stabilizing her spine (a big fall like that can cause spinal injuries) like they’d been taught, but most were standing around in a state of confused panic.

“Somebody has to call 911,” Nora explained, “but nobody has a cell phone and we don’t know how to handle this with the school and we don’t know where the masters are.” As you may recall, not only do the masters camp separately, but they don’t tell the students where they are.

“I’ll get them,” volunteered Lo, but just then Kit and Karen ran up. Karen went right to Crystal’s side and spoke quietly to her and to the students with her. I expected she would give Crystal Reiki, but that's about all she can do. She's not a doctor or anything. Kit spoke to the rest of us, asking what had happened and explaining that the masters had heard the scream, too, but that the others were searching the campground before converging on the student site. But Kit didn't know what to do, either. She understands herbal medicine, but as far as emergencies go, the students who'd just taken their first aid course were our current experts.

Or, actually I was the expert, since I'm a Wilderness First Responder, which outranks First Aid certification, but I couldn't think of anything to do that wasn't already being done. Crystal's wrenched foot played on my mind oddly and unhelpfully. I kept looking at it and wishing I hadn't. I felt kind of sick.
Joy ran up, having completed the loop she’d agreed to check, and sized up the situation pretty quickly.
“Has anyone called an ambulance?” she asked.
“No cell phones,” Nora explained again.
“Have you forgotten landlines? Situational awareness?” Joy demanded. “Go to the entrance station! Tell a ranger we need an ambulance.”

Nora ran off without another word. Kit smacked herself upside the head for not having thought of it herself.

“Can you do anything about her foot?” asked Michael.
“I’m a vet,” she answered.
“Yeah, but humans are animals. It’s not that different.”
“Legally it is.” It was odd hearing her talk about legalities, something the masters usually ignore.

Charlie and Allen arrived at the same time but from opposite directions. Allen also couldn’t help, except for asking whether anyone had contacted the rangers, but Charlie took charge. He pulled a pair of nitrile gloves out of what looked like a keychain clipped to his belt, put them on, and set about making sure Crystal could breathe and wasn’t bleeding anywhere.  Then he directed the students and Karen to gently straighten Crystal out to further protect her spine. He examined her foot, then stripped off his shirt and jacket and used them to improvise a sort of bulky bandage to support the joint until the ambulance crew arrived. The whole time he was asking Crystal questions, checking her mental state. He was quick, efficient, and unhesitatingly competent.

I’d known he had emergency medical training, but aside from the time he treated Allen for hypothermia I’d never seen him use it before. He's a master at it, as he is at almost everything else I've ever seen him do.

A ranger arrived, but couldn't do anything except reassure us an ambulance was on its way.

And indeed, about fifteen minutes later, the ambulance did arrive. Charlie spoke to the EMTs briefly, and then they examined Crystal, put her on a backboard, repackaged her foot, returned Charlie's shirt and jacket, and sped off.

Then there was the issue of what to do next--obviously, someone should stay in the area for Crystal, but equally obviously we weren't all needed and the masters had a school to run. But we had three vans--there was no easy way for just one person to stay.

Karen solved the problem by announcing that Crystal's parents only live about an hour away. Kit went to the ranger station to call them and returned with a plan; we'd drop off one of the masters at the hospital (Karen volunteered), then the rest of us would head back to campus. Crystal's parents would then host Karen until she could make whatever travel plans she needed to.

So, we did that. We're back on campus now.

Sharon has just received a call and spread the word; Crystal does not have a spinal injury, and although she was mildly concussed, her primary injury is her foot. She's been admitted to the hospital for surgery and should be back at school, on crutches, in a week or two. She'll be alright.

But on our way back I happened to sit next to Nora, the new one. Not my friend Nora who's been here as long as I have, but the yearling. She said something interesting.

"Everyone was afraid of Crystal's foot, afraid and kind of grossed out. Even Charlie--I saw him, when he looked at her foot, he winced a little. Everybody winced. Except for Karen. I saw her face when she looked at Crystal's foot. She just looked kind of sad. And she's the only person who just sat with Crystal so she wouldn't feel alone."

"I thought she was giving her Reiki," I said.

"Maybe, but mostly she was just sitting with her, rubbing her earlobe. She was just being nice."

No comments:

Post a Comment