Nursing students assist at accident

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

Hours of studying hit home for five nursing students Mon., Nov. 3 when they were first on the scene of a fatal accident.

The five students were on their way home from clinicals in Sioux Falls after one of the season’s first snowfalls when they noticed an accident close to Brookings and stopped to help.

Camren Aberle, a senior nursing major who was in the group of students, described the scene they found.

“When we got there, there was one car in the ditch on the right side and three cars in the ditch on the left side, including (the state patrolman’s car),” she said. “The police officer was lying in the median and the car that hit him … you could see the damage in the middle from where it hit him.”

The officer hadn’t been down long when the group arrived.

“When we got there he was still warm and pink. I thought I felt a pulse right away, but his pulse was gone within a minute,” she said. “We began CPR immediately.”

The students remained on the scene for about 40 minutes, doing CPR for about half an hour.

The group assisted in other ways, as well.

“We covered him up with coats and got blankets under him and under his head, because he was lying in the snow. We also checked on other patients, some people from other cars,” Aberle said. “Some of the students directed traffic to make sure that no other cars joined us.”

After a short time, an EMT arrived on the scene, and later two graduate nursing students also came to help.

“I know it was hard for a lot of the girls. … It’s a lot different when it’s a real person and you don’t have the materials you’re used to working with,” she said. “It was hard because he did die.”

The event increased her confidence.

“Sometimes we’re thrown a lot of information all at once and sometimes you don’t feel like you know it, but when we got there we did everything we could do. It gave a little bit of confidence that we do know what we’re doing.”

It also taught her other lessons.

“It should get the word out that people should stop at accidents to help,” she said. “If you are trained you should carry a [CPR] mask in your car. If you’re not trained, then get trained.”