Sunday, October 10, 2010

Count Your Blessings

On my way home from a super-fun family session last night, I had lots on my mind.  Stuff like, "I wonder if Chris and the kids are home yet?  I wonder what the weather is going to be like for the sessions tomorrow?  I wonder how fast I can get these photos edited?"  And most importantly, "What the heck am I going to cook for dinner?!"
Then, in a split second, my thoughts vanished as I watched, horror-filled, as the van in front of me went into a violent swerve and veered wildly off the highway and into a blackberry thicket, just feet from the telephone pole.  I don't think I could even process what I had just seen; but I pulled over to the shoulder and dialed 911.  
Those 911 dispatchers are amazing!  He was totally calm as I tried to relay everything I had seen and was seeing in a jumbled mess of panicky-out-of-breath speech.  Three other cars who had witnessed the frightening event, pulled over and we all made our way down the embankment together.  
What I saw when I got there was a relief, for I had expected so much worse.  The van had bounced (yes, BOUNCED) back and forth so violently from side to side that I still can not believe that it didn't roll over.  The sweet elderly woman at the wheel was calm and quiet.  She had immediate black and blue bruising on one side of her face (probably from the airbag) and a cut on her forehead.  She had quite a bit of pain in her side and was very nauseous. 
We talked to her about who she was, where she was going, what she was going to do when this was all over.  Anything to keep her from trying to exit the car. 
In the passenger seat was a small lady with Down's Syndrome who seemed perfectly fine and wanted to know if they would still be going to college (they were on their way there for a symposium).  I was so relieved!  I wanted to hug her for being ok!  We couldn't see a scratch on her, and I hope that remained the case after all was said and done!
We were only a couple of miles North of the hospital, so it didn't take long for the emergency responder crews to arrive.  We had 2 State Troopers on the scene within minutes, and the ambulance wasn't far behind.  It was quite a production.  Amazing to witness. 
As the EMT's starting working on getting the driver and her passenger out of the van, a State Trooper took down my information and told me I could go.
As it turned out, I couldn't go, because my van had been blocked in by the emergency vehicles.  Soooo...I asked Officer "I" if I could take some pictures of what was going on - nothing revealing (or distasteful), just the amazing work that was going into helping these dear ladies.  He said it was fine as long as I didn't get in the way.
So I stayed and documented our wonderful Corvallis and State of Oregon Police, Fire and EMT's
I can honestly say that I have NO idea how they do their jobs every day!  I was so flustered and shaky and wanted to do irrational things (like hug the crash victims)!
When the ambulances cleared out, I was able to get to my car and finally head home. 
Home.
Where everyone was there, happy and healthy.
My wonderful husband had dinner ready and we all sat down and ate together.
Together.
Never take it for granted.
 
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Thank you to all of the brave men and women who put their lives (and sanity) on the line every day to assist others.  

And especially to Todd/Uncle Todd/Officer Zahlmann - we're proud of you!  

6 comments:

Parsley said...

Puts life in persepective doesn't it! Thank God you were safe!

My husband is a VOLUNTEER fire fighter and I'm so proud of him and all the other first responders. Seeing these pictures captures what he does sometimes...it's humbling to me.

zenmasterlauren said...

That must have been so scary! I'm so glad everyone was pretty much ok---that was awesome of you to stop and call 911. Your photos are great-

Evan and Charitie said...

oh my goodness. That's so close to my house! I'm so glad you are safe. We saw a really bad accident when we took the kids to the temple two weeks ago. It really makes you focus on how important your family is.

Ken said...

Nice photos. We drove by and wondered what had happened.

We witnesses a similar event a couple of years ago on the way to church. The car flipped upside down. There was only one passenger, and when I climbed in with him, I was so relieved he was alright! I was also grateful to hear the siren at Adair go off knowing the volunteer firefighters would be there shortly.

Sarah Z said...

Cute post Steph! I remember witnessing a motorcycle accident once, but the people weren't as lucky...You are lucky the van didn't hit you first! Thanks for reminding me to count my blessings. Especially when Todd walks in the door every morning after his shift...

Stephanie said...

@Parsley - It sure does! Thank goodness for your husband! Love those volunteers!!

@Lauren - Thank you!

@Charitie - It was just around the corner from you guys! It really does make you think about what's most important!

@Ken - Howdy! That sounds even scarier than what I witnessed! I'm glad all was well! It is comforting knowing all those volunteers are out there ready to help!

@Sarah - Sad. Motorcycles are so dangerous (mostly because you can't control what OTHER people are going to do - and there's not a lot of metal between you and them!)! Can't wait to see you guys next month!