When Matt pulled the car over on the side of the freeway in Oakland beside the unconscious man with blood gushing from his face, his teeth knocked out, a massive hematoma on his forehead, his knee broken in half, and his ankle stripped of skin and askew, I noticed that he was still breathing, but his chest was rising and falling the way people with severe head trauma breathe – not normally. He still had a pulse, but it was fast and thready.
The woman standing next to him, who had pulled off with me said, “I saw it. He just fell – or jumped – off that freeway overpass and landed right here.”
The cops were there but there were no paramedics yet. Someone threw me a pair of blue latex gloves and I knelt down on the bloody pavement in my white lace dress.
With no neck brace to stabilize his neck, no back brace to lift him onto, no IV to bolus him with saline, no suction catheter to suck out the blood that was choking him, no endotracheal tube with which to intubate him, no oxygen to help his labored breathing, no blood transfusion to replace what was pouring out of him, and no pain medication to ease his pain, I felt helpless. As it turns out, a doctor without her tools has little to offer other than love, so that’s what I did.