I don't feel good about what I didn't do

  1. Well, guys. Confession is good for the soul. I'm not asking whether I acted correctly because I know I did not. But let me tell you what the deal is.

    I was on my way to church to babysit in the nursery. My daughter usually takes the 0800 mass, but she's sick, so I was going in earlier than usual. I took my pills and I thought I'd drop by some place to pick up a little something to eat on the way, so I took a back street.

    Right in the MIDDLE of the street, two streets down from my house, there's a little car parked. Right in the middle of the street. Like geometrically centered in the street. About half of a back yard back from the stop sign. As I drove around it (it was in the middle, as I mentioned, so I had to kind of go onto the grass), I saw that a male was slumped at the wheel. Slumped to his right, you have to be right even with the car to see him.

    I thought he looked dead. I yelled at him, and got no response at all. I didn't see any breathing and I didn't see any twitches.

    What I didn't do is get out of my car and assess him. I didn't check to see if he was beyond help or if I could have done anything to help him. To tell you the truth, I was scared. His car was turned off - he wasn't at the stop sign. It was just spooky.

    I was afraid he might "Just" have passed out from being drunk or having drugs or something like that and if I got out of my car, and woke him up, he might hurt me. I also was afraid somebody had hurt him and might come along and check to make sure he was good and hurt. There were tire skid marks all around the car going every direction.

    So I called 911 and described the situation, and the dispatcher told me not to get out of my car, because it sounded fishy to him, too. He took my cell phone number and said they'd call me if they needed me and said he didn't advise that I stay there even in my car.

    I don't live in a good neighborhood. But I'm very ashamed of my response. I think maybe I don't deserve to be called a nurse any more.

    I know you wonderful people are going to say things to make me feel better. But I know you would be stretching to try to do it, so please don't. You know who you are - you are so loving and supportive, but this is just -- well, it's almost the "unforgiveable sin."

    Love

    Dennie
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  2. 42 Comments

  3. by   LasVegasRN
    It was 2:30 am in the morning, I was leaving my aunt's house - she lived in the inner city of Cleveland. I stayed late because she wasn't feeling well and I wanted to make sure she was okay. Anyway, I was driving down Kinsman Avenue - rough, rough, area.

    In the middle of the street was a car with two young boys. They looked to be in their teens. The car was in the middle of the street. Car lights were off. The driver was slumped over the wheel, the passenger was leaning in the passenger side window.

    I stopped, got out of my car, and went up to the vehicle. The first thing I noticed was there were hundreds of bills all over the car. Twenty's, Ten's, Five's, One's, just all over. This was before cell phones, so I looked around for a store or something, but everything was closed. I saw someone looking out of a window across the street, I yelled, "DID SOMEBODY CALL 911?" and the person replied, "YEAH, ABOUT 10 MINUTES AGO!".

    Both of the boys were breathing, but unconscious. Then, all of a sudden, I realized that:
    1. NO ONE was out on the street
    2. People were looking out of their windows
    3. NO ONE was out here trying to get this money
    4. NOT A CAR was out on this street.

    I got the heck out of there, with the quickness. I did call 911 when I got to a safer neighborhood, they confirmed that someone called earlier. Do I feel bad about leaving? Yes, part of me did. I wanted to stay until the paramedics arrived. But, I also didn't want to be questioned as part of a drug deal gone bad OR be there if/when whoever got the bad end of the deal came back to finish what they started.
  4. by   Furball
    Dennie,

    YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!!!!

    I lost a good friend in a similar scenario....she was murdered because the person she was assisting was a drug dealer and his enemy was "wasting" a possible witness....my good friend, Cheryl.

    She was a great nurse and friend.....


    I'm so glad you did what you did.....I feel sick just thinking what could've happened to you. You NEVER know!

    Self preservation is NOT a bad thing. The world is missing out on a great lady (my friend) who never had the chance to marry or have children.

    Take care....
  5. by   nursegoodguy
    Dennie you did the right thing!
    It's a crazy world we live in! Who would take care of your daughter if anything happened to you?
    911 said stay in your car, right... Well!
    Normal emergencies do not envolve parking the car in the middle of the street, turning it off and then slumping over... no they envolve running your car head on into a building as you lose conciousness!
    This was abnormal! Just because you are a nurse doesn't mean you have to take a chance with your life in every bizarre situation!
    Sorry for the guy but... You did good by calling 911.
  6. by   BadBird
    Dennie,

    You have nothing to be ashamed of, you did do the right thing by calling 911. I was in a similiar situation years ago and I got a call back from the police that the person was drunk and passed out at the wheel. In todays society you can never be to careful.
  7. by   lindalee
    Oh Dennie, we simply cannot save the world. The situation you describe was unsafe and the only smart thing to do---you did. I can tell you that about 14 years ago I was the first to come upon a horrible accident in the middle of the night. I slowed down to stop and God help the person, but there was a head without a body lying in the street. At that point I saw red lights flashing as emergency vehicles were approaching. I drove on and did not stop. I have always wondered if anyone else was in that car that night and yes I also felt very guilty. Sometimes self preservation simply is necessary. I was so upset over that head that I had nightmares for awhile. It still gives me a feeling of horror to remember it. As nurses we choose to work in environments where we can feel fairly safe--and in environments that are at least somewhat controlled. If we wanted to do otherwise, we could be medics or police women. Call yourself nurse proudly, you did nothing wrong.
  8. by   fab4fan
    You did absolutely the rightthing. This reminds me of a funny story that happened to me about 15y ago.

    I was on my way to work, driving down a country road. A car was pulled off to the side, and there was a middle aged gentleman slumped over to the side. I walked over to the car; his window was down. I yelled at him several times; he didn't look like he was breathing. So, just like they tell you in CPR class, I shook him by the shoulder and yelled, "Sir, are you alright?" He jumped and screamed, and I nearly arrested from fright.

    He yelled at me, "What the hell do you think you're doing?" I told him I thought he might have been sick. He yelled at me, "You idiot, I was taking a nap!!!"
  9. by   researchrabbit
    The only rescues I've had to do have been animals (ducks to dogs and everything in between).

    Sometimes I can't do a rescue if traffic is too scary or the animal is hurt badly enough to bite. And with animals, unlike humans, sometimes there is no 911 to call ("Officer, there's a turtle trying to cross the road on I-35 in heavy traffic!" Bet someone would get right on that...)

    I always feel awful for a little while. The thing is though, we do what we can -- and who knows how many people pass by and do nothing. A little can be enough to make a difference. It is important to keep yourself safe. Sometimes it is important to be a little selfish; so many of us tend to put ourselves last.

    Yeah, I know. Animals are not humans. But the caring response is the same.
  10. by   aus nurse
    Dennie,

    I would have done EXACTLY what you did. You did nothing unforgiveable and I really mean that. You got him help.
    Noone would expect you to put yourself in a very unsafe situation.
    911 told you that too don't forget.

    (((((((((((dennie))))))))))))) you did OK
  11. by   sunnygirl272
    dennie-you did the right thing!!!! too dangerous of a world we live in
  12. by   2MagnoliaTrees
    God Bless you and give you peace because He knows you had to watch out for yourself. You got help to him and they took care of the situation. At least you call somebody. You did right.
  13. by   WashYaHands
    I agree with the others that you did the right thing. You followed your intuition and there is a lot to be said for that. The first rule in first aid is to make sure the scene is safe. It doesnt seem like it was safe to me. For whatever it's worth, I would have done the same thing that you did in this situation.

    Linda
  14. by   Sleepyeyes
    (((((Dennie))))))
    The first thing a paramedic is taught when coming upon a scene like you described is to "secure the scene." In other words, you don't go in if it's not safe.
    You did the right thing.

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