Too Many Responders?
To the Editor:
Monday, Sept. 24, we were heading south on Central Avenue in Ship Bottom, crossing the incoming Causeway when a vehicle traveling eastbound on the Causeway went through a red traffic signal and hit us broadside. T-boned, we were turned 90 degrees, vaulted a curb and came to rest in thick shrubbery as we made contact with a car parked in the Wawa parking lot. Pictures of the aftermath are available at: http://barnegat-manahawkin.patch.com/articles/ship-bottom-crash-victim-needed-to-cut-from-vehicle.
Fortunately, a Long Beach Township police officer was nearby at the time of the accident. Response by LBI responders was immediate. One of the responders (we think it was the police officer) entered our van via the tailgate and told Connie to stay still and not to move her neck. She was having difficulty breathing and was in pain if she tried to move her upper body. (Upon examination at Southern Ocean Medical Center, it was determined she had a fractured clavicle, a badly bruised right side and a severely strained rib cage.) The responder took her blood pressure and measured the oxygen content of her blood. He obtained an oxygen tank and had it hooked up in short order. He then sat behind her and told her he was going to cradle her head in his hands until they could get a neck brace on. He had me turn off the ignition and put in a call for fire department support. Shortly thereafter there was another responder behind me, holding my head until they obtained a second neck brace. Both responders stayed with us until it was time to remove us from the vehicle.
Getting us out of the car took a bit of doing. First Connie was covered with a blanket as members of the Surf City Volunteer Fire Co., the extradition team for LBI, broke the glass in the front and sliding passenger doors, cut away the deployed airbags and used a power saw to cut through the door frame in order to open the door. At the same time, two responders were prying open the van’s hood in order to cut the battery cables to avoid a spark or inadvertent deployment of other airbags. Another responder was using a chain saw to cut the thick brush that was making it impossible to open the driver’s door. We were carefully placed on hardboards as we were removed from the vehicle. Head blocks were secured so we couldn’t move our heads, and we were moved to the ambulances that would transport us to the hospital. Both of us are certain other responders were tending to the driver and three passengers in the other vehicle with equal professionalism.
Several months ago, a letter to the editor suggested more responders than necessary are utilized in emergency situations. We have no idea how many people responded to our accident, but in our opinion we ought to let the professionals determine the number and types of teams they need to get the job done.
We sincerely hope all readers never experience a catastrophic accident. But know this, if it happens on Long Beach Island, you will be taken care of by an outstanding team of fellow citizens who are members of our police departments, fire companies, first aid squads and fire police. The fire companies, first aid squads and fire police are made up of volunteers, people you may never meet who give of their time to achieve and maintain a level of competence through continued training. Fellow citizens who in the middle of whatever they are doing stop and respond.
Recently there have been letters to the editor suggesting that the Surf City siren should be eliminated. We respectfully disagree. Every time we hear the Surf City siren it is a continuing reminder that our volunteer responders have once again stopped what they were doing to help another citizen in need.
A special thank-you to: Ship Bottom Police Department, Ship Bottom Fire Co., Long Beach Township Police Department, Surf City Fire Co. and EMS, Beach Haven First Aid Squad and Long Beach Island fire police.
Peter and Connie Hnat