Colorado 2020: Accident

A damaged car.
Image by Steve Buissine from Pixabay.

As promised, I’m finally continuing the story of my AmeriCorps term in Colorado. The last entry in this series recounted events that took place on July 15, 2020. On that day, my work crew and I began working on a trail managed by the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department. We returned to that trail on July 16, although there was a twist later on.

July 16 began just like the previous day. My crew and I hiked an assortment of tools onto a flat, completely exposed section of trail. The soil was rocky and hard, and the trail was full of deep ruts. We went to work making the trail more walkable, which often involved removing rocks and then filling in the holes left behind.

Some of my coworkers taking a break on July 16, 2020, whilst I toil endlessly under the grueling Sun.

Nothing crazy happened during the day, but two of us had an eventful evening.

Nick (one of my crew leaders) and I decided to go to the store after work. As we were driving into Boulder, we saw a serious accident.

Two young women in a Subaru made a left turn from a side street onto the highway. This was all well and good, except that they pulled out directly in front of an oncoming Ram pickup truck, which was traveling at highway speeds.

The truck driver had no time to react, and slammed into the front, left side of the Subaru. Debris flew everywhere, and both cars bounced off of each other, coming to rest a considerable distance away from one another.

Nick and I stopped to help, as did a couple in another car and some workers from a nearby industrial complex. The Ram was driven by an older man with long, grey hair and a beard. He was fully conscious and able to walk, but he was dazed and complained of chest pain from where the airbag hit him.

The two women in the Subaru were much worse off.

One woman, the passenger, made it out of the vehicle. But she was limping badly, and had to sit down on the shoulder of the highway.

The driver couldn’t get out of the car. She remained in her seat, bleeding, and looking very confused. She had to be wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher.

This is an ambulance. As you can (hopefully) tell from the palm trees, it’s not in Colorado. Image by Ely Penner from Pixabay

Nick and I couldn’t do much for the women in the Subaru, but luckily the couple in the other car that stopped had some medical training. I helped by staying out of the way, and by talking to the driver of the Ram, to try to keep him calm. One of the emergency responders and I also stayed with him in case additional symptoms showed up, besides the mild confusion and chest pain.

Once highway patrol said we could leave, Nick and I continued to the store. In hindsight it seems odd that we would witness a major accident and then carry on like nothing had happened, but what else could we do?

This makes me wonder about emergency responders, who deal with situations like this all the time, and then have to go back home and be parents/partners/mad scientists/whatever. I’m curious as to how they’re able to bracket the emotions from their jobs, to keep them from interfering with their parenting, partnering, or diabolical experiments?

As you’ll see, this serious accident thing would become a bit of a theme during my time in Colorado. Luckily, our next crisis was still a long ways away.

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