Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: The Accidental Samaritan
By Garnet Miller
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“I think I’ve exhausted my usefulness to you, Lord,” she said aloud.
Sighing, she started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. Halfway home, her cell phone rang. Clarisse didn’t recognize the number.
“Yes, I need help! I’m on Route 77 heading east just past Franklin Boulevard,” came the voice from the other end.
“Excuse me? You’re breaking up. What did you say?”
“I’m on Route 77!” the caller shouted. “A car ran off the road down the embankment. It landed in the water.”
Clarisse realized the voice was feminine.
“I’m sorry Ma’am, but I think you should be calling 911.”
The rain pounded the windshield making it hard for Clarisse to see. The phone slipped from her hand as she tried to increase the wiper blade speed.
Turning on her right signal light, she pulled over off the road and reached beneath her feet for the phone.
“Are you still there?” Clarisse asked.
“Yes. Are you a 911 operator?”
“No,” she shouted over the din of the rain. “Listen, I can call 911 and get them out to you.”
“There’s no time! The car is sinking. The driver is trapped inside.”
Clarisse’s mind raced. “Can you swim?”
“Yes,” the woman said.
“Okay, get the driver out of the car before the water rises any higher. The person may be injured.”
“I know you’re not from 911, but will you stay on the line?”
“Yes I will. Where are you on Route 77?”
“I’m past Franklin Boulevard on the left side of the road!”
“I know where that is! I’m on my way.”
Their conversation ceased for the moment. Clarisse could hear the beating of her heart. She pulled back onto the road and headed across town. She resisted the temptation to speed despite the urgency. After all, she only had one hand on the wheel, the other clung to the cell phone at her ear.
“God, please help me make it to those people. Forgive me for ever thinking that You couldn’t use me.”
After what seemed like hours, a voice crackled over the line.
“Hello?” Clarisse said.
“I’m…I’m here. I…I dragged her out of the car, but she’s not breathing! I think she’s dead!”
“She may not be dead. You have to perform CPR.”
“I don’t know how!” she shouted.
Clarisse could sense the rising panic in the woman’s voice. Her own level of discomfort had increased.
“Listen to me. I’ll talk you through it, okay? First, make sure she’s lying flat.”
“Now, tilt her head back and listen for breath sounds. Do the best you can.”
Clarisse appreciated the difficulty of the task since the noise of the rain no doubt competed with the driver’s possibly feeble breaths.
“I can’t hear anything! What do I do now?”
“Listen carefully. Breathe into her mouth twice. Watch to see if her chest rises. If it rises, do fifteen chest compressions. Keep giving breaths and compressions until I get there.”
“How much longer is that?”
“Hopefully not long.”
There was another extended silence. Clarisse focused on getting to the women. The rainstorm wasn’t quite so torrential or deafening now. Up ahead was a sign for Franklin Boulevard. She looked to the left. Illuminated by a street light, she spotted something moving. Clarisse pulled across both lanes and onto the shoulder.
She jumped from the car and ran towards the figures. One woman was huddled over the other who was turned on her side away from Clarisse.
“What happened? Is she alright?” she asked the woman.
“She started to cough so I turned her on her side. Was that right?”
Clarisse smiled. “That was perfect.”
Clarisse dialed 911.
“Help is on the way.”
Clarisse helped the woman turn the driver flat on her back. Her eyes widened in surprise.
“Mom? Oh my God! Mom, it’s Clarisse. You’re going to be okay now.”
Clarisse hugged the woman who had rescued her mother. “Thank you for saving her,” she cried.
“The “thanks” go to you. If you hadn’t stayed with me, things could’ve turned out differently for your mother.”
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