Human Connections

Our flight had just landed in Calgary, and I was thankful for the lovely days that I had enjoyed in Kauai.  My driver was waiting to take me the final forty minutes to my home.  I headed for the escalators and then it happened!


I was on the third or fourth step from the top when my carry-on luggage fell forward, and I lost my balance.  I remember saying “Oh no.  Oh no”. as the escalator dragged me to the bottom headfirst and on my right side (over 40 feet).  I was awake and horrified when my head hit the glass more than once as my glasses broke.


Later, I was told that some passengers behind me had witnessed the accident.  One man apparently jumped over my body and raced to the bottom in order to hit the emergency button so that the escalator would stop moving.  By this time though I was at the bottom.


What happened next was absolutely amazing.  Six people who didn’t know me or each other sprung into action.  One woman ran through the security doors, upstairs and contacted emergency services.  Unfortunately, because we were in a secure area, she and airport staff were unable to get back to me, so she yelled through locked doors to state that help was on the way.


The five people who remained in this secure area surrounded me and started crisis planning.  One became the natural leader and directed the others on how to lift me because I thought my right leg had broken (it hadn’t but was very bruised and achy).  The woman near me said she was a Home Care nurse so touched and reassured me. 


The leader kept saying “We’ve got to get her out of here” and they did.  A WestJet manager directed us to chairs near the baggage area and my driver joined the passengers and me there.  A medical professional quickly rode in on a bike and began assessing my condition.  The woman who initially had run for help assured me that she would not leave and asked directions for contacting my daughter and became the communications liaison.


Before I knew it a bed and three ambulance personnel arrived.  Everyone agreed that I needed to go to Emergency because the bump on my head was quicky swelling.  During the trip to Peter Lougheed, my blood pressure raised some alarm as did the swelling, but my ECG apparently revealed excellent health and EMTs stated that I presented much younger than my biological age.


The hospital emergency doctor ordered an immediate CT scan on my head and x-rays of my right side (shoulder, leg).  My daughter had arrived before I was wheeled away and my dear son-in-law was busy putting clean sheets on the bed and readying a room at their house for my recouperation.


In the aftermath of testing, we were shocked to learn that there had only been three things broken:  the lock for my carry-on luggage, my glasses (in several pieces) and my nose!


Because I had asked everyone involved to put their names and numbers in my iPhone, I was subsequently able to make contact with those who had helped me.  I found out that the one man who was leading the others had First Aid training.  The woman who handled communications was a police officer on her way home from a course.  Then there was the home care professional who gave me encouragement.  My driver was so kind and delivered my luggage to my home, so no one had to worry about that.  The EMTs were wonderful, and I can’t say enough about the staff and care at the Emergency ward.


Family members, near and far, kicked into action, communicating and filling needs.


Sometimes, I hear people talk about how we live in a world where people are selfish, busy or just disconnected.  This experience disputes all of that.


I am so grateful that during my crisis, I was surrounded by people who not only were skilled but also showed compassion and invested time to make things easier for me.


This week I need to rest but am also thinking about ways that I can help others too.  One of them is to warn each of you to be very cautious because you just never know when a freak accident will occur!  I will also be sending letters to the Calgary airport Authority and WestJet with recommendations to improve traveler safety.


What can you do to make this a safer and more connected world?


Remember, we are all in this together.

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