28 May, 2008

The Tufty Club

Here's a top tip. If you are out and about listening to tunes via a personal music delivery system (ie. iPod, MP3 player, fancy mobile 'phone) and you're about to cross a road, take a moment to stop, look both ways then cross. Why? Because if you don't you'll end up like the young girl who got hit by my bus this morning.

It's alright, she's okay. She's bloody lucky, though.

It's early Wednesday morning and I'm on my way to work. I'm sitting on the front seat near the driver. I like to sit at the front when I can, it's the only time of day that I don't feel duty bound to move closer to the back. It's a safe bet that no grannies will be getting on at 7am. It's a reasonable journey, the bus is pulling into a stop to let someone off and allow more lemmings on. The bus driver isn't speeding, he's slowing right down. All of a sudden there's a loud, sickening THUD. The brakes are slammed on and the driver shouts, "Oh she didn't, she didn't just do that. Oh my God."

I'm first off the bus, dreading what I might see. A young girl is sprawled on the road, screaming. I get up close. She's breathing, there's not too much blood. A few scrapes, skin breaks, she's going to be sore but no bones are poking through. I bend down, reaching into my bag for my mobile 'phone to call the emergency services.

"Can you hear me? I need you to stay still." She's thrashing around. "I can't stay still, I've just been hit by a bus!" This is a good sign. "I know," I tell her. "I was on it. I really need you to stay still. You're going to be okay, the ambulance is coming." There's a young man next to me who is already on the 'phone, he's talking to the operator, asking me the occasional question, how's her breathing, any apparent injuries. He's taken off his jacket and placed it over her. Another jacket appears, I later find out it belongs to his girlfriend who is on the bus with him. Our girl is wearing a running vest and shorts, the earphones from her MP3 player are dangling round her neck. I'm joined by a woman who turns out to be a nurse at my hospital. I leave the girl with my colleague and go to see the driver. He's slumped across the steering wheel. He's pale and clearly in shock. He couldn't help it, he says, she just ran out. I believe him. I didn't even see her and I was sitting at the front of the bus. Another bus driver has appeared from somewhere, I don't know where. She stays with the driver. He asks after the girl, I say she's going to be okay. He didn't see her, he says. She just ran out. He shakes his head in disbelief.

I go back outside, our girl is awake and talking, distressed and in shock. She knows where she is, she doesn't remember anything. She's crying and shaking. She wants her mum. She wants her sister. The young man gets her mobile 'phone and calls for her. He speaks to the sister, hands the 'phone to the girl, takes the 'phone back and talks to the sister again. I talk to the girl and tell her she'll be okay. She's calming down.

As I said, it's looking good and stays that way. The ambulance crew shows up, followed by another one. They talk to the girl, check her pulse and oxygen levels, put a neck brace on her and cover her with a blanket. She wants her sister, she doesn't remember calling her and talking to her. I'm not surprised, she's just smacked her head against a road. I ask the second crew to see the driver. The police arrive. The girl is lifted onto a trolley and taken off to the nearest hospital, just over 500 metres away. My nurse colleague has called the girls sister, she's already at A & E.

The policewoman is young. She asks if anyone saw the accident. We tell her we didn't. I told her I was at the front of the bus. I say that the driver wasn't speeding, he was pulling into the stop. "Well, she was on the crossing." I look down at the blood on the road and yes, the girl had been a foot away from the crossing. That doesn't mean she was on the crossing when she was hit, though, she might have landed there. And even so, you don't just step out onto a crossing and expect a Sydney bus to stop. I feel sick for the driver. It's not his fault and yet she seems to have been on the crossing. I'm not so sure now.

It's all over within about 20 minutes and we disperse. Another bus comes, I get on with my new nurse friend. We talk on the way to work. We're each others alibi for being late, we say. She's quite shaken. I'm not. I wonder why.

I get to work, tell my story to a few people. We talk about how easy it is to lose yourself when you're listening to music. I wonder if she actually did have her earphones in. Did she stop, look, listen then cross? Did she run straight across the road without looking, without thinking? I'll never know. She probably won't ever remember, and I'm pleased about that. No one really wants to remember being hit by a bus.

I saw my cousin being hit by a car when we were both thirteen. It was a random, bizarre event. I watched her get off a bus from the other side of the road, She ran across the road, a car was going far too fast. I'll remember that sound till the day I die. She was fine, some massive bruising but no bones broken, no lasting damage. We met up a few months ago and the subject came up. I told her how I remembered crossing the road and talking to her. The conversation went something like this -

"Hello, G, are you alright?"

"S, hello. I've been hit by a car!"

"I know, I saw it!"

The ambulance turned up, they wouldn't let me go with her and thus cheated out of a school free morning, I went off on my way. My dad called her dad that night and all was well.

I remembered that sound today. I remembered seeing my cousin on the road, crying and scared. It was surreal then and it was surreal today. I'm sitting here 15 hours later and I'm having trouble believing that the bus I was travelling on hit someone this morning. I bet our girl is feeling much the same.

I wonder how that bus driver is right now. I wonder if he'll sleep tonight. I wonder if he sees her face every time he closes his eyes. I hope he's okay.

* This is what the Tufty Club is all about. This link is for the youngsters and the non British!*

*Updated to add - the girl is okay. She was admitted to the local hospital for observation but is well.*


Foodycat said...

And all that before you had to do a full day of work? God I am glad you were there! Sounds like she was in very good hands.

Meanwhile, I am fairly sure that Alexei Sayle claims that the only organisation he is a card-carrying member of is the Tufty club.

Jacki said...

Good lord! What a commute! I feel very sorry for the good bus drivers - it would be a difficult thankless job. (the bad ones that are rude, drive dangerously and don't wait for frail people to sit down earn no sympathy!)

HH said...

Oh My!! and I thought my morning was a bit shit yesterday!! That is very intense, though I too am pleased you were there, along with your colleague, for the girl and the driver.

mscrankypants said...

Christ oh mighty, it's a dreadful thing to happen but fortunate for the girl that she had skilled help close by.

It reminded me of driving last night and the police were photographing an accident scene -- a car and motorcycle collided, but thankfully the poor rider got out of it in one piece but affected so many.

NiC said...

Handy reminder SSS.

This is why I didn't used to wear an MP3 player when out running. They do help you run faster but unless you're extra vigilant you'll end up under a bus unable to run at all.

Dragonfly said...

Glad she is ok. What a morning.