Memorial Day… not just a time to remember those who are gone

Posted May 28th, 2010 by Steve Alexander

This post will be a little off the ordinary business focus, so I hope you’ll bear with it and allow me a more personal moment.

Last Saturday, I was in the middle of my typical errand-running, when a dust cloud appeared ahead of me on the freeway. At first I couldn’t tell its origin, but it quickly became clear. A truck had crossed two lanes of highway on the opposite side, the center grassy median, two more lanes on my side from the opposite direction and pounded into the hillside. Another car stopped, I called 911 and directed emergency services to the complicated freeway interchange and leapt from the car (confirming I needed to  update my Red Cross CPR and first aid training, which I do regularly). One young girl had made her way down the hillside, crying for her friend, who had flown from the truck and couldn’t be found in the thick brush.

When we finally got to her, it was evident she was in serious condition. Both girls likely had internal bleeding, one what appeared as a compound fracture of her leg and the other bleeding from her ear. We did what we could to keep them from moving and administer what aid and comfort was possible; they were both emotional from the accident and because they couldn’t see one another, but one of the first rules of first aid is to keep the person from moving in case of internal, spinal and other injuries. Try telling that to a hysterical 19 year old girl who’s just flown 100 feet from an out-of-control vehicle and can’t find her friend!

A lot flashed through my mind as we took control of the situation, put out flares, administered aid and made sure the two girls were warm and not moving, and kept traffic moving to avoid additional accidents. My wife has a daughter and her image was vivid in my head. How quickly our lives can hang in the balance. How precious life is, yet how much we take it for granted. One minute we’re rushing about our days, either fretting about this project or that, an employee challenge, the economy or something else that is filling our time and our lives.

Yet, in a flash, it could all be gone.

We approach holidays like Memorial Day usually focused on where we’re going to celebrate the weekend, what we’ll be eating, what projects at work won’t get done on time, the traffic, trains or airports we’ll have to negotiate. You know the drill. 

Yet, in a flash, it could all be gone.

So, if you read this during your holiday, take a moment to think about those you love, both here and gone, as you celebrate Memorial Day. Think about those that matter, whether at work, home, extended family or wherever they might be. Take a moment to reach them in some way that matters. After all, you never know, right?

As the ambulance pulled away and after I left the scene, I kept thinking that those two young girls had parents and friends somewhere who wouldn’t know why they didn’t show up on time wherever they were expected. And how their lives will likely be affected forever from that event. Hopefully, you’ll take the time to remember someone that matters to you today. Because you never know, in a flash, it could all be gone.

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3 Responses to “Memorial Day… not just a time to remember those who are gone”

  1. HG says:

    I travel many miles daily for work, and I have seen my share of things that happen and how some drivers are just in a hurry. Just many get caught up and don’t take the time to think of their loves ones and spend time with. Like you said “Yet, in a flash, it all could be gone.” and never had the opportunity to say it or spend time with those that matter most in your life. In one of my travels a while back, I was heading north on the 15 and on the second line. I looked back and saw this guy in a work truck racing down the freeway on the first line. He slam on his break because the car in front of him was to close and he was going to try and squeeze between me and the other but he couldn’t. He got behind me and jumped on the third line so fast that he lost control as he passed me and hit the car in front of me, and that car lost control and hit one of those big AT&T trucks which then lost control and went up the cement railings and caused a pretty good pile up. I managed to miss all this and went around all this. It happen so fast. I looked backed and all the lines except the last line was just starting to move. The guy in the truck kept on going didn’t stop and speed up fast. I carry all my gear for work, so I pulled out my camera and zoomed in on the guy’s truck and took pictures as he speed away. I then called 911 to give the information of the truck and direction he was headed.

  2. Theresa says:

    Steve…enjoyed reading your piece…I have the unfortunate event as a Flight Nurse of seeing the end result of accidents like that….every critical patient I transfer, I take a moment to put my hand on there head, close my eyes and say a brief prayer on their behalf. I know that somewhere there is family weeping and wondering if their loved one will still be alive when I get them to the hospital. I also make a point to tell the patient, and family that I will take excellent care of them…sometimes that still isn’t enough.Maybe I am lucky in some way that I have a job that makes me take pause…On rare occasions I have had patients and family’s come back to me and thank me for saving their son or daughter…I have seen people come back from some horrific accidents….my job makes me eternally grateful, humble, and thankful for every interaction I have with a patient I fly. I am also thankful for all those that give selfless service to society….who are away from their families on holidays, so the rest of society can enjoy their BBQ, or parade. I give thanks and much love to those that are no longer here, and presently to the military, EMS professionals, Firefighters, Police, Nurses, Doctors, and all hospital staff that will be standing by and ready to respond at a moments notice…give thanks, be grateful, and take pause.

  3. George says:

    You really put things in perspective. Especially after attending a memorial ceremony I couldnt agree more with the importance of life.

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