Thirty years ago as I sat working at my first reporting job out of college, I heard a report of a car crash come across the police scanner. As more details came through, I recall the roads were icy and a young woman lost control of her car, hit a guardrail and died.
I didn't know this person, but I remember being sad, and I wrote a column for the newspaper where I worked at that time about it. I didn't know her, but she was a person with a life. She was a person with a family. She was a person with friends.
I thought of all the lives that crash impacted that day.
I feel like I've been reading a much higher than usual number of accidents in the newspaper, and seeing more than usual on the police blotters we receive each week. Lately, a lot seem to involve all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, but also cars and trucks, and even pedestrians being hit.
I used to glance at these stories and move on. They involve people who have family and friends, but I don't know them. They are just names of people who, unfortunately, were involved in mishaps on the road of varying degrees of severity.
Recently, someone quite close to my family was involved in a very serious crash. Suddenly I know the name of a person who was part of a devastating accident. I know his family. I know his friends. I know the life he was leading, his career path, his hobbies, his likes, his dislikes.
Believe me, when that's the case, the whole situation takes on a whole new meaning.
For me, this has brought a new appreciation for police officers, first responders and firefighters who get to the accident scene first. They face so many life-and-death decisions that need to be made quickly for a person they don't even know. I have a new appreciation for all the people who dial 911 to get help medical help on scene as quickly as possible.
I can't say enough about the hospital staff, nurses and doctors who must evaluate and make such important calls for what to do next. Think of the helicopter staff who whisk a patient to another hospital with more expertise in the area needed. All the staff, nurses, doctors and surgeons at the next hospital ... such an endless number of people all involved in the life of one person involved in one crash.
Now when I read those newspaper stories about crashes or see the information in the police blotter, I say a quick prayer for all people involved, as well as their families and friends.
I may not know them, but they are real people with real lives.
When I spent several overnights in a hospital lounge, I heard the helicopter more times than I wanted. But I thought, "That helicopter is saving a life," and I said a quick prayer for recovery for the person being brought in.
When you read about or hear about these accidents, I urge you to offer up a quick thought for the injured person, his or her family and friends, and all others involved - even if you don't know them personally. I truly believe those thoughts and prayers help.