Tidelands Health nurse Beth Marion called on to deliver care on the road
August 2, 2016
Call her the highway angel.
It’s not a role Beth Marion has sought -- not even one she prepared for -- but for the second time in just over a year, the interim clinical director of women and children’s services at Tidelands Health has come to the aid of a car accident victim on a major highway.
In spring 2015 she and a fellow nurse at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital were first on the scene after a truck flipped over on I-20 in Florence County, badly injuring the driver.
In July, she was at it again: While driving to Greenville on I-26 for the South Carolina Hospital Association Management Academy, Marion saw a car cross over the median, spin out of control and careen into a wooded ravine.
Her first thought: “Here we go again. God give me the strength to help as needed.”
Her first act: Pull over, run to the car and see how she could help. She was in full nurse mode.
“It was 5 p.m., and traffic was pretty heavy,” Marion said. “A man also pulled over, and a girl who had stopped called 911. We ran to the car and could hear a young woman screaming inside.”
The car, a PT cruiser, was resting partly on its side and partly on its roof. The woman, the sole occupant, appeared to be conscious but was screaming frantically. She was lying between the driver-side door and the roof. The engine appeared to be running, and smoke was pouring out of the car, Marion said.
“The man and I tried to open the doors but couldn’t,” she said. “He tried to break the windshield with a rock, but that didn’t work either. While he was doing that, I ran around to the back to see if I could get in through the trunk, but no luck.”
Finally, because the car was a convertible hardtop, they were able to separate the top from the windshield and pull the woman, who appeared to be in her mid-20s, out.
Marion did a quick assessment, picked glass out of the woman’s wounds, cleaned them with alcohol wipes she had in her car and gave her water. “She was understandably traumatized,” Marion said. “I assured her that EMS was on the way and tried to get her to relax.”
Her fellow good Samaritan called the young woman’s father to tell him about the accident and reassure him that EMS was en route and would let him know to which hospital his daughter would be taken.
Within 15 minutes, Marion was on her way, relieved that she could offer help, even though she emphasizes she’s not trained in emergency nursing and never wanted to be in that arena.
“My dad was a cop, and my husband worked for the fire department, so I never wanted to be in emergency nursing,” she said. “It’s too scary for me.”
Looking back, Marion modestly dismisses the notion of being heroic and said she hopes anyone would do the same for her or her family in the same situation.
“Nobody ever goes into nursing for the recognition,” she said. “When something like this happens, I just do what I can to help and it’s not a big deal to me. I have two younger sisters who drive, and I would hope that if anything happened to them, there would be someone to help them, too.”