Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Car v Car v Car

Had the chance to use my "stay where you are I'm a trained First-Aider and I'll help you in any way I can" routine on the way home from work this evening.

Didn't get the chance to change into the Superman costume unfortunately, but never mind!

I was on the M8 heading west from the general area of Glasgow Airport towards the Erskine Bridge (how boring must that be for those reading this who know nothing of the geography of Scotland, and only marginally less boring for those who do!) and I reached a sudden tailback with both lanes not really moving at all, for almost a mile as it turned out. Fortunately I was on the bike, not in the car, so took full advantage by using the special "courier lane" which is always denoted by the white line dividing the lanes the cars use! I also switched repeatedly from dipped to full beam, just to make my approach a bit more visible to anyone thinking about changing lanes or opening their doors suddenly (which can happen in such tailbacks).

As I made it towards the front of the queue I saw that in the fast lane there was a car stopped with its hazard lights flashing, and as I reached it I then saw that there were in fact two other cars stopped in front of it. Very close in front of it in fact, with contact made between the rear two of the three, and various bits of debris about the carriageway.

Now normally I don't get involved, and I had no intentions of doing so until, at the last minute as I passed the RTA (Road Traffic Accident, or in fact I believe they're now known as RTC - Road Traffic Crash to take cognisance of the opinion that there's no such thing as an accident, it's always someone's fault) I pulled into the fast lane in front of the front car.

Wearing very fluorescent safety gear, and being confident and aware of what's happening around me, I had no qualms about walking around on the carriageway, since the traffic was going very slowly indeed as it filtered down into a single lane to pass the obstruction.

I approached the front vehicle which was directly behind the bike, and inside which the female driver was sitting using her mobile phone, and made sure she wasn't injured and that someone had called the police. She confirmed that she was fine, and told me that one of the three people who were standing across on the hard shoulder and who had come from the other two cars had called the police.

I carefully crossed the carriageway to the hard shoulder, making sure that I had eye contact with the driver approaching and making sure he was in no doubt I was about to walk in front of him and I was in no doubt he was going to let me!

The three females standing on the grass verge looked a hell of a lot more upset than the first, older, lady to whom I had spoken, and all three of them were very teary-eyed, and although one said she had a bit of a sore chest where the airbag had deployed and another said she was 4 months pregnant, none of the three had any actual injuries. None that they mentioned when asked anyway.

The driver of the second car, although I hadn't ask what had happened, told me that she'd no idea why the front vehicle had suddenly executed an emergency stop right in front of her and leaving her no time to stop. I made no comment at the time, but the rule is, I believe, always that the car that runs into the back of another is always at fault. You should always be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear. Oh well, that's for the police and insurance companies to sort out.

The three females on the verge also told me when asked that the lady who was still sitting in the front car had called the police, who should be on their way, and one of the three standing there had also called a breakdown/recovery company.

Hang on. Did they say that the driver of the front car had called the police? She told me that they had called them. Oh well, better to be safe than sorry, so I called them to make sure.

A few minutes later a traffic car appeared and blocked off the fast lane, and then a well practised routine swung into action. After ensuring that no one was injured, one of the officers collected the sets of keys for the cars and, while her colleague stopped all the traffic, all three were moved to the hard shoulder, and I moved my bike there too.

I helped a bit by lifting the biggest bits of plastic bodywork off the carriageway, and the traffic was allowed to move again.

The officer asked me if I had seen anything, and when I explained that I had only stopped to make sure no one was injured, she allowed me on my way, with a "thank you for stopping".

So there you go.

My initial first aid training was a number of years ago when, in a previous life, I worked for Strathclyde Police as a Turnkey, and I am told that the level of training Strathclyde provides is the equivalent of that which Paramedics receive apart from the administration of drugs and intubation (tube down the throat) which Strathclyde rightly doesn't teach.

As a Turnkey I used my first aid skills if not on a daily basis then certainly more than once a week, dealing with all sorts of things from cuts and bruises, epileptic fits (or clonic tonic seizures as I seem to remember they are called), unconsciousness, drug overdoses, drug withdrawals, Delirium Tremens caused by alcohol withdrawal, wounds caused by knives and broken glass (the guy had been thrown through a window during a fight), chest pain, anaphylactic shock (mild, fortunately), and pretty much anything you can think of. All life was there!

Not now being a Turnkey and no longer working for Strathclyde Police, these days I don't often have cause, thankfully, to put my training to use, but it's always nice to know that the skills should still be there, lurking under the surface and ready to present themselves if necessary. So I'm glad I stopped this evening, even though it turned out that no one had been injured.

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