When You’re the First to Arrive at the Scene of an Accident

Arriving First to an Accident - What Should You Do? | PepperDesignBlog.com

Yesterday afternoon I was one of the first to arrive at a motorcycle accident on a road about two miles from our home. The motorcyclist had lost control of his bike on a very busy street and was lying unconscious in an awkward position when I pulled my car up, threw my hazard lights on and rushed to check on him.

When I reached him his eyes were open, staring up at the sky, and his pulse was not to be found. A man behind me approached with a cell in hand and confirmed that he was calling 911. Turning back, I realized that I was standing over someone that I was sure was dead. My heart skipped a beat. Myself and another new arrival lifted the heavy bike off of the motorcyclist (I tell you, when your adrenaline is rushing motorcycles feel like feathers) and I knelt beside the cyclist again, but this time to find a faint rising and falling of breath in his chest and now an audible inhale and exhale from his mouth. He was wearing a helmet, but when the paramedics arrived and asked me to first cradle his head, and then to remove his helmet, it was saturated with a thick pooling of blood. I spoke to the unresponsive, open eyes of the man with assuring words and held his head and squeezed my arm muscles in a firm L shape until I couldn’t feel them anymore. Eventually the medic team had enough of a crew to take over and they dismissed me. It was really about ten minutes but it felt like ages. My nerves were firing at heightened speeds at the accident, but I cried as I drove away.

I don’t know if Thomas (from his military uniform) survived. He had a young face but peppered grey hair and may have been in his late thirties. I don’t know if he has a family or loved ones that he was racing home to. Who will be grieving for or with him tonight? I don’t know if I’ll ever find out the rest of his story other than scanning the obituaries for the next couple of weeks and hoping that I don’t see his name.

It felt so dreary, so sudden, so over-in-the-blink-of-an-eye.

About an hour later I was conversing with a good friend of mine who works in emergency medical services via text about the incident. For being a pretty calm person (even under a lot of stress), I was caught off guard at how nerve-wrecking decisions became. I chose not to administer CPR because I felt faint breathing, I didn’t reposition the man because I was worried for his spine, I thought most about T who was in my parked car (would someone hit her?) until another person driving by blocked my car and sat with her. I wasn’t the first on the scene, but I was surprised to find that I was the first to kneel next to this broken man and whisper (yell) into his ear, feel his heart, put my hands on his neck to check for anything.

I think that there is a strange uneasiness that overcomes when we are presented with such a tragic situation. A ‘what do I do?’ that takes over. With this in mind I quizzed my friend with a few questions that I wanted to share today.

1. If you’re the first on the scene of an accident? What should you do?

The most important thing is to keep your own safety in mind. It’s great to want to stop and help especially if no one else is there, so it’s super important to slowly and safely pull all the way off the road or to a safe place. Don’t do anything frantic. Only get out of your car if your sure it’s safe to do so. People should keep in mind that an accident already happened and for the most part the damage has already been done, if you end up causing another crash or getting clipped by a car then you not only hurt yourself but there’s an extra patient or patients that will require extra resources and attention. So stopping to help is good, but safety has to be number one.

Make sure 911 is activated as quickly as possible. The guys responding are eating lunch, or grocery shopping, or shampooing their hair – the sooner they’re activated the sooner the wheels on the engine and ambulance will start rolling.

Along with this is providing and committing to memory as many details of the accident as you can. Saying there’s a car crash doesn’t provide much info. If you saw it happen, mentally stop and take a minute to remember the details: where were the cars when it happened, what kind of cars, how fast, any braking before crash, what exactly happened to cause the accident, lanes they were in, which car did what and so on. If there’s a traffic light involved stop and remember what the light was doing. Where exactly was the point of impact of the vehicles? Example: front right of red SUV struck the back left of brown 4 door sedan causing sedan to spin twice, rollover once, vehicles traveling at 40 mph with no braking seen or heard, people were they ejected. All of the details are important so stop to think about them. 911 will want to know how many cars and how many estimated victims.

Also be sure to note an accurate location such as an intersection or near what freeway exit. Were they traveling northbound or southbound, east or west of the exit, on the offramp or onramp. The one thing people who see the accident can do that no EMS responder (emergency medical services responder) can do is provide a detailed picture of what actually happened. The mechanism helps predict a lot of injury patterns.

 2. When can I safely reposition an unresponsive person? (Say they’re buckled into a car or in danger.)

In general patients shouldn’t be moved, I’d say it’s ok to move people if they’re in immediate danger. The thought is that potential neck and back injuries can be made worse with excessive movement. Instead talk to the victims, tell them not to move their head or neck. Try to keep them calm. Also keep paying attention to details – are they wearing seatbelts? Lap belts or lap and shoulder? Did you undo the seatbelt to take the person out or were they unrestrained? If you move someone, remember how you found them so you can retell it.

If someone is not breathing move them out of car and lay them flat. Try to keep the head in a neutral position in line with the spine. Someone can be designated to hold the head in this position until told to let go by EMS.

3. When should I administer CPR?

Take a good 10-15 seconds to check for breathing. Take your time, you can even put your hand on their chest or expose their chest to help. Sometimes it can be hard to tell at first. You can check for a pulse if you feel comfortable, but finding a pulse can be really tough. I would advise to visually check for breathing. If someone’s breathing then they have a pulse. If someone’s not breathing then it probably won’t be too long before their heart stops. If they’re not breathing, I’d be comfortable telling you to lay the person flat on the ground, reasses their breathing since it’s possible that just the repositioning of their head and neck has reopened the airway.

If they still aren’t breathing CPR would be appropriate. No breathes (an older methodology), just continuous chest compressions. Push hard and fast.

4. What if they are bleeding heavily?

If someone is excessively bleeding from a certain spot then direct pressure can be applied. Once again there is a huge risk involved here since you will not have the appropriate protective gear. But if you’re comfortable using a tshirt or something similar, then apply really hard pressure. And don’t let go to see if the bleeding has stopped. Keep pressure on until medical personal relieve you.

5. Any other thoughts that we may have not covered?

If you feel comfortable approaching a crash know that there are many risks and hazards (too many to mention0, be careful, aware, and know you’re assuming risk. When it comes to dealing with the victims try to stay calm and speak to each person calmly. Get a sense for how critical they might be, their ability to respond to you will tell you a lot. Someone who is freaking out because they’re in a lot of pain can be distracting and stressful but they are less critical than the person in the back seat who won’t look at you or respond verbally. 911 should be updated if there’s new important info once you’ve interacted with the victims.

To my friend, thank you so much for this overview. I myself had forgotten that there are no ‘breathes’ involved with the new CPR methods that are taught today (just hard and fast chest compressions). It’s been ages since I was certified and I urge everyone to consider certification again or for the first time.

I hope that you all have a safe and healthy weekend, I hope that this doesn’t leave you on a sad note but instead on an empowered one! All the best. xo.

An Experiment in Succulent Propagation, Part 2

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

It’s been about a week and my succulent clippings have been out roasting (‘scabbing’) in the sun as suggested by my local nursery. We may be on to something over here! We may be growing little baby succulents by splitting succulents from larger plants, and I’m really excited about that idea (this is all so new to me). What I love about succulents is that the are great for terrariums, planters, set-it-and-forget-it houseplants, centerpieces, pots that don’t get enough light, yards that get too much light, you name it. They can be a little pricey to purchase, but if propagating is as easy as scabbing (for some varieties), this is so neat. You can catch up on part 1 of this little experiment back here just in case you’re just joining us.

This might be the cheapest, easiest solution to something so loved. Maybe. I’m only a week in…

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

I transferred my clippings and leaves to our veggie garden (that’s a bed of cocoa hulls there) and, as instructed – resisting all temptation, didn’t touch them for one whole week. The goal here is to completely heal up the raw ends of each clipping through a process called scabbing, or basically by allowing the stem to blister in the sun.

And blister they did…

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

This process faired very well for my echeveria derenbergil blue (say that three times fast), while the aeonium urbicum sadly shriveled up and disappeared. There must be a more recognizable plant name for these two, but that’s what the little id stick says so I’m sticking with it.

As a reminder, here’s what they looked like prior to being sacrificed for this little test, the sturdier echeveria is on the left, the thinner aeonium on the right:

Succulent Propagating | PepperDesignBlog.com

I have heard great things about propagating straight from leaves (rather than full stems), I think next time I may try this but without placing in direct sun as suggested. Just to see if they might not turn brown on me.

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

But on with the echeveria. Since this little guy did fairly well and as expected, I moved on to the next step which was to ‘firmly’ plant the scabbed clippings in soil. You might use succulent soil if you’re really spoiling them, I used the soil that was already in my geometric wooden planter (which was mostly soil that was emptied out from the original succulent plants that fill the sparse space – essentially, I suppose, really old succulent soil). Packing the soil around the baby clippings helps the succulent to feel secure and snug so that it can continue to grow upright and release roots right where it is.

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Gently water and allow it to take in its new surroundings.

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

I added four to this new space (so sad to have lost the other four) and am now patiently waiting to see if they survive and thrive.

Adventures in Succulent Propagating, Part 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

I will be back with an update!

Have you ever tried anything like this with any success? I don’t really have a green thumb, but every time I experiment with the garden, the yard, the flower pots… the more and more comfortable I am taking care of (and even growing) an active landscape for our home. I’m starting ridiculously small, but you have to start somewhere. I LOVE that feeling. That feeling of ‘wow! I really accomplished something new today’. (Now I just need more time…)

My Village.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

Oh man, how do I even spend two minutes away from those little monkeys? They are my world. I adore weekends full of parks and crafts and play. I fill my free time with their love. My heart skips a beat when, in the corner of my eye, I see the start of a shaky lip as I slip away to work leaving both girls behind.

But I have to be honest, most mornings the girls are bouncing off of the walls to learn about what’s going to happen that day (Liv, mostly). Liv’s breakfast barrage of questions usually focuses on what friends she will see, what books she will pick out at the library with one of her sitters, or if she’ll get to paint.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite childcare solutions with you today as an add-on to last week’s post on being a full-time working, full-time mom, mom, and balancing a schedule of play groups, preschools, mother’s helpers, swim lessons and everything in between to keep these girls active so that I have time to, well, do what I do.

The first secret I want to let you in on is the phenomenon known as a Mother’s Helper…

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood, Mother's Helper | PepperDesignBlog.com

Neighborhood Mother’s Helpers

Do you remember what it was like to be 10 and so ready to babysit, but not really quite ready to babysit? To love little kids and to revel in imaginary play when it wasn’t really ‘cool’ anymore? To feed a ‘real’ baby, bounce a ‘real’ baby… this is the age group built for helping moms out.

I was struggling with finding a solution for the end of the day when I just needed two or so more hours to finish up my work. It didn’t make sense for a babysitter to drive over, and plus, I was home and available (sort of). My mother-in-law suggested a Mother’s Helper. I had no idea what she was talking about, but quickly learned about this magical age group and quickly built up an awesome team of three 10 to 12 year-olds that live within a few blocks to help.

Where to Find: I put a message out on our Nextdoor site (have you heard of Nextdoor.com? A word-of-mouth social site for neighborhoods that allow neighbors to share news about events, safety, crime, classifieds, you name it. I love it.) describing exactly what I was looking for. Two of the girls that responded to my request come over regularly after school on three different days each week, the other is sort of an on-call who loves swinging by :). Another source might be a local school, church, girl scout group or just be spreading the word amongst your own neighbors.

Lessons Learned: Ask mom up front what a good hourly rate might be, but have a rate in your mind that you’re hoping to pay. Should be much less than a babysitter because 1. you’re at home but in a different room, 2. you’re not expecting as much out of the girls as you would a sitter (you’ll probably help clean up meals, organize activities, etc). I don’t plan conference calls for these hours because I might be needed for a few minutes and that can be a little embarrassing (cue the baby crying in the background). Now I ask my girls if they’d like to come over earlier than they need to to help me tackle a pile of laundry or to prep veggies for dinner that night! For the price, and for the experience for them, it’s invaluable.

Where You Have to Be Flexible: Unlike a nanny, 10-year-olds have all sorts of unexpected events that pop up in their schedules that you have to learn to work around. Rehearsal for the school play tonight? Raincheck on sitting. Going out of town with their family? They’ll be skipping this week. Sometimes I am up very, very late finishing work because of an unexpected cancellation. But! If you have the flexibility (or a list of backup plans) they are super engaging, very kind, and very flexible with you, too.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

Awesome Babysitters

We have used traditional babysitters for the majority of any ‘home’ help with the girls (as opposed to taking them somewhere to drop off) and I’ve found that college-aged girls are the very best for us. After researching with fellow families in our neighborhood, I settled on a group of college sitters over a nanny because 1. they are slightly cheaper in our hood per hour 2. are flexible with a part time schedule or when I travel for work with the girls, 3. take direction super well, 4. tend to be excited about childhood activities and like variety (especially if they’re child development or education majors!).

We are two miles from a local college campus and I can create a work schedule – on many days – that mirrors a college student’s class schedule. Our favorite sitters might come in the morning, head off to a noon class, and then come back in the afternoon. If they have to prepare for a final or are headed home for spring break, I’m flexible with them and have backup plans. If I have to travel for work or am leaving for a vacation, they’re flexible with me (and I try to plan around their breaks, too). I often have one to two different sitters throughout the week to help meet our needs and their time off for class.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

One of Liv’s sitters was a swim instructor when she was in high school and she loved taking Liv up to my parent’s pool for beginner lessons

How to Find: We primarily used word of mouth and ended up getting connected with a young girl who lived in a household of like-minded Christian girls. She babysat for six months, then when leaving the country to study abroad, recommended her roommate who after a semester recommended her roommate, and the cycle continued… Check with your local campuses on where you can post job listings (most have a job board, I’ve used many before for interns for my company) or seek out particular groups (Christian organizations, Catholic Neuman centers, Jewish leagues) to plant the seed that you’re searching. I have also used sites such as Care.com and even Craigslist – and with careful interviewing and filtering, you can find some pretty great sitters there, too.

Lessons Learned: Set expectations up front. Talk about punctuality, how much of a heads-up you need if they’re going out of town, what you hope to accomplish each day with the kids (time outside, crafts, trips to the park), what they can help with while kids are napping (folding towels, unloading the dishwasher, etc – tip: have this stuff ready for them when they arrive) and what the boundaries are (rules they can set and build upon for guiding good and bad behavior in your children). I’ve found that it’s difficult to break any precedent once a sitter is hired, so it’s good to get everything out there up front! PS don’t discount the boys – the girls’ favorite nighttime sitter is a young guy whom they adore.

Where You Have to Be Flexible: Exam time, spring break, summer breaks, forgetfulness, loving to sleep in… (I have one fantastic sitter that is 15 minutes late every day, but I adjusted my schedule accordingly and would never let her go). Most of our sitters have always been so on top of it, so responsible and really so great for the girls.

And when you find an awesome, attentive, kind sitter :), pure gold.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

Play Groups & Mom Friends

Kids learn so much from each other! Whether a play group is set up in such a way that one mom hosts while the others get that time off and the schedule rotates, or even one mom is paid while the others sneak away for work, this is a great alternative to traditional preschool. The girls head over to my girlfriend’s home two days each week for a long session with her boys, I love that they look forward to it with such excitement. The plus for me is that the girls spend the time together (as opposed to Liv at school and T with a sitter) and that they are developing longterm friendships – it’s also nice that they get a mix of a different home environment with new rules and a new ‘mom’.

I do reimburse my friend for her time and I try to really be flexible with her style of parenting (which I love anyways). I really appreciate the time the girls have with her.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

Co-op Preschools

When Liv’s neighborhood preschool took a little seven week break this summer, I pooled together several of the moms and asked if we could maintain the original schedule and bring in our own teacher at one of our homes. A co-op preschool is a nice alternative to Liv being at home all morning with T’s sitter because we’ve organized it so that there are still story, craft, snack and play times, and she gets to enjoy that time with other kids her age. The moms split a very reasonable hourly rate and Liv is getting to know the neighborhood kids better.

Where to Find: I posted the group on our Nextdoor site (see above) as well as a notice for teachers who were off for the summer. We found a young art teacher who immediately came up with an adorable schedule for each day of the preschool based off of a favorite children’s book.

My group of friends has also created a co-op preschool group that we are going to participate in this year on Thursday mornings. Moms will alternate hosting and giving the lesson. I can’t wait!

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

Traditional Preschools

I’ve been on so many preschool tours I can’t even count anymore. It feels like preschool and college will be the most expensive investment in my girls’ education! Full-time, part-time, Montessori, private, public, bilingual… I’ve explored them all. At the end of the day we finally settled on our local neighborhood preschool that’s two blocks from our home. I LOVE walking Liv to school two mornings each week – the convenience trumps all other factors. It’s a challenge because the program is only part-time but at the moment it’s the best. Plus, preschools are so interactive! There’s Liv above on various dress up days – never a shortage of the adventures she comes home to tell me about.

Where to Find: Recommendations from friends and neighbors have been the very best resource for us. If you’re crazy like me, you might create an excel spreadsheet that breaks down every school…

Lessons Learned: We tried an all day preschool for Liv when she was 2 and a half for three days a week, after three months she was miserable… she would break down before we dropped her off everyday and even though the program was well loved by everyone who recommended it, we realized that the days were just two long. That sort of set this crazy schedule in motion in the first place. I guess the lesson is to experiment and find a program that’s right for your family.

Where You Have to Be Flexible: Wait lists are crazy here in San Diego. I put Liv on our neighborhood school’s wait list when she was three months old (for room when she was two!) because of how hard it can be to nab one of those treasured 9 spots at so many schools. I recommend being proactive and taking a few tours and joining a few wait lists just in case…

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood, Nana | PepperDesignBlog.com

Nana & Papa Time

Family really plays a huge role in our girls’ lives and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Before my parents moved to San Diego last year we were managing with all of the above really well – but then when they arrived (and T arrived), my world changed in such a great way that I’m not sure we could ever go back. Nana & papa take the girls to their swim lesson each week (where nana gets in the pool with them), papa picks Liv up from preschool one day each week for an ice cream, nana takes the girls on a little adventure every Friday. So. Very. Awesome. (thanks, mom).

Where to Find: I think that we are all a little hesitant to reach out and ‘bother’ family and friends with our children. But this is our greatest village! If you have an aunt or cousin in town, see if they might be interested in some adventure time of their own. It never hurts to ask… and they could form a stronger relationship that will last forever.


There you have it, there’s the crazy schedule broken down into various chunks of activities.

And then when it comes to the weekend and those blank spots in between? That’s my time with my girls, and I try to really take full advantage of it.

I am so grateful for this village (it really does take a village). I consider myself incredibly blessed to be able to balance (no, juggle) the many different parts of my life that make me feel like a happy, complete momma. I love you Liv, T and little one on the way.

Random Thoughts: It Takes a Village | Motherhood | PepperDesignBlog.com

PS this all started with this conversation… and here’s more Random Thought posts on motherhood. Do you have any special childcare secrets that you want to share? Do tell.

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