While returning home from a trip to California, our ED nurse, Lorena Stovell, and her husband stopped at a truck stop to stretch their legs. While outside, they heard a "thunk-thunk". They thought an animal had been struck by a vehicle. Then a terrible cry rang out and her husband went to investigate. He called for Lorena to come "NOW!" Quickly sizing up the situation, Lorena sprang into action.
A truck driving couple had stopped at the truck stop so the wife could use the restroom. Thinking his wife was waiting for him to move the truck, the husband began to move the fifth-wheel. Unfortunately, the wife was making her way to the building. When the truck began to move, the husband ran over his wife. All three axles of the truck had gone over the woman's right side.
Lorena immediately noted the woman was suffering from an arterial bleed in her right arm, right leg and a fractured pelvis. Aid needed to be rendered immediately or she would bleed out in a matter of seconds. Utilizing her training as an emergency room nurse, Lorena took control of the situation. She prompted onlookers to call 911; others to give up their belts which she used as a tourniquet for the lower extremity bleed; instructing others how to assist her in giving emergency care to the injured wife and console the desperate husband. Lorena herself applied pressure to the brachial artery in the upper arm to control the arterial bleed. Lorena kept talking calmly to the woman. Lorena asked her how she was doing, learned of her kids and family, keeping her conscious and talking. Lorena's calming conversation helped abate shock. But Lorena knew she may have to initiate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation on the woman in the truck stop parking lot. Lorena was ready to do so if required.
The ambulance arrived and took the injured woman to the hospital. Lorena later learned her right arm and leg had to be amputated because of the trauma that had occurred from bearing the weight of the fifth-wheel. But her life had been saved because of the fast thinking and quick action of Lorena. The husband called Lorena the next day thanking her for saving his wife's life. He had been told by the surgeons who worked on her that if it weren't for Lorena, she would have died before the ambulance could have arrived at the scene. He could not express how grateful he was that Lorena was there that day at the truck stop.
Lorena expressed to me prior to leaving for California that she had second thoughts of going to California. She had thought she would just stay home. Ultimately, Lorena and her husband decided to make the trip. When I heard the events at the truck stop they "just happened" to stop at in Arizona, I believe that trip was made due to a greater purpose at work. It was not a coincidence Lorena and her husband made the trip to California. It was not a coincidence they stopped at that particular truck stop to stretch their legs at that particular time. Lorena is an extraordinary nurse who utilized her critical thinking skills and delivered excellent patient care in extraordinary circumstances. Because of Lorena's dedication to nursing and compassion for others, this grateful couple will be able to keep on truckin'!