By Heather Harms, BS, RRT
August 15, 2016
I was on my way home from work earlier this month when I was a first responder to an accident that took place in Grundy County, IA. I’ve been a registered respiratory therapist since 2008, but had been out of RT for over a year and just recently received my BS in healthcare management.
My passion for health care, stemming from RT, led me to my current position of ambulatory informaticist for Unity Point Health in Waterloo, IA.
But on this day, every instinct and piece of knowledge I had learned and practiced about respiratory therapy and critical care over the last seven years came back to me in an instant. The motorcycle accident on Highway 20 showed me the importance of first responders.
Myself and two nurses, one retired from Des Moines, IA, and one traveling on vacation from out of state, orchestrated an amazing attempt at saving the lives of two individuals in a horrific crash. As EMS arrived we continued to support our patients and EMS professionals. And as the helicopter landed on Highway 20 we knew our efforts contributed to saving someone’s life. While the passenger on the bike did not make it, the driver did.
My prayers go out to those involved and their families for healing and strength. If I could ever meet either one of those individuals, I would like to tell them how hard I prayed for them while I worked in that grass to save their lives.
I applied the knowledge and skills I had to taking action when action was needed in my community. I stopped on the side of the road for a roadside motorcycle accident where I provided CPR to a husband and wife, with the help of two other motorists who also just happened to be nurses. We were the first on the scene and provided hands on care for 40 minutes until they were transported by EMS.
We worked alongside EMS in one of the greatest efforts I’ve witnessed in citizens working together to provide a meaningful service to those in need.