Health students respond to crash

Paramedics with the Grand Junction Fire Department attend to an accident victim Tuesday after the driver’s truck hit a tree at Ninth Street and Grand Avenue. Before paramedics arrived, a group of health students and their adviser rushed to the scene from a nearby house and offered emergency assistance. Despite resuscitation efforts, the elderly man died. He had suffered a medical complication at the wheel. His wife, a passenger in the truck, survived.

When an emergency arrived outside the front door, they were prepared.

Five members of the local chapter of HOSA-Future Health Professionals were gathered Tuesday morning at their adviser’s home on the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Grand Avenue when a truck slammed into a tree across the street.

The group of high school and college students are all training for nursing, veterinary or emergency responder certifications and act out emergency medical scenarios to demonstrate their medical response knowledge at HOSA competitions.

At the time of the crash, they were meeting to discuss their next event, the HOSA National Leadership Competition scheduled June 26-29 in Nashville, Tenn. 

This time, the emergency they encountered was real. The students and their adviser, Theresa Bloom, a registered nurse and emergency medical responder, rushed outside to help however they could.

Bloom helped pull the elderly man who had been driving the truck from the vehicle and began performing CPR until Grand Junction Fire Department paramedics arrived.

Colorado Mesa University student Jennifer Hicks, 20, ran to the passenger side of the truck. She checked the woman in the passenger seat for injuries and tried to keep her calm and looking elsewhere as volunteers performed the often unsightly practice of CPR on the driver, who was the woman’s husband.

Despite resuscitation efforts, Bloom and Hicks said the elderly man died. Bloom said the wife had steered the truck away from parked cars down Grand Avenue and into the tree while her husband suffered a medical complication with his foot still on the accelerator.

Bloom said the woman told her the couple would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary this Wednesday.

Bloom said Hicks and another student, high school senior Chelsea Hammond, performed calmly and professionally in an intense situation. Bloom said Hammond supplied information to a 911 dispatcher after the crash.

Other students stayed on the porch of Bloom’s home, which she said was a good move.

“The ones that didn’t go over didn’t go over for a reason. You don’t need a lot of people” crowding around a crash site, she said.

Hicks, whose 18-year-old sister, Jessica, also witnessed the crash’s aftermath, said she focused on doing everything she was trained to do. Once it sank in what she had witnessed, she felt a bit shaken but mostly glad to know she had it in her to help others.

“The end result was still someone passed away, but it feels good to have the training to help someone,” she said. “I had a talk with my dad and he said, ‘You couldn’t save that one but you have the ability to save more.’ ”


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