“I was just driving, admiring the sunny weather and blue skies on a hot Wisconsin summer day. I was admiring all that was good in my life, and the need to walk away from a negative hold in my day-to-day activities. I was thinking how would I make life work walking away from this big detachment.
Suddenly, something swerved in front of my eyesight and made my heart drop. Instantly, my body tensed, as I was driving 60 mph over the Green Bay West-172 highway bridge. I was at the tallest peak of the bridge when a red car swerved from over in the fast lane in front of my vehicle. I immediately thought, ‘What the heck is going on with that car?’ I gripped both hands on the steering wheel. Bracing for anything that could happen.
As I slowed down to let the swerving car move through, it jerked hard, swerving over through the slow lane right into the concrete guard rail. ‘Oh no, please don’t let that car tumble over the bridge!’ I said, feeling sick to my stomach. The red car smashed into the one and only protecting guard rail for fast moving vehicles, protecting them from tossing over into the river.
‘OH MY GOD!’ I screamed, worried and fearful for this individual’s life. Then, again at 55 mph, the car violently jerked and hit the guard rail for a second time, and a third time, until the final crash stalled the vehicle in place. I lost my breath, everything around me muted in silence as my focus was single-handedly this red car.
Still in the middle lane myself, the car to my right in the slow lane and I both slowed our vehicles dramatically in order to slow traffic behind us as we watched this red car come to a stop. It was my duty as the front line car in all of this to help protect those behind me.
I glanced at the red car’s driver’s seat, and my heart raced, my eyes widened, mouth dropped open. I saw no upright person with any hands on the wheel. I knew right then and there it was my humanly duty to pull over and help. I did not care if I was on a highway bridge with little room. Looking closer at the driver side window, I saw an individual toppled over the center console. I could only see a shoulder and knew something medical was now a factor. I breathed deeply and prepared to take big action now.
But I was not in this alone. I made eye contact with the driver of the car to my right, and we both quickly pulled our vehicles off to what shoulder lane we had available on this highway bridge. I was numb and operating by the first thoughts crossing my mind. Park fast, run, grab your cellphone, Jasmine, and dial 9-1-1.
Myself and an older gentleman both ran to the stalled vehicle. I yelled, ‘Check her doors!’ And he yelled back ‘Call 9-1-1!’ Getting closer, I gasped at seeing a very young woman slumped over, convulsing and uncontrollably drooling. I didn’t know how much time had passed in all this. I could feel my body trembling, my voice short of breath.
I feared for this woman’s safety and shouted, probably louder than needed, to the answering 9-1-1 dispatcher, ‘Walk me through the steps to help someone who appears to be having a seizure.’ While the older gentlemen started checking for unlocked car doors. I jumped quickly into life-saving mode and just needed the answers from the dispatcher to make this situation less intense.
In this moment, I felt thankful to have someone with whom I could work together through all the steps fluidly. We did not waste a moment’s time. I feel just a tad bit safer knowing I was not in this emergency alone and that together we would help this young woman.
I couldn’t believe this, feeling shocked, seeking all solutions and highway cars whipping past us so fast. I felt the swaying motion at the top of this highway bridge. Large trucks shook the ground beneath me. ‘Holy sh*t, I’m standing on a highway bridge, nowhere to cover for safety, pacing circles around this crashed car.’
The older gentlemen searched for unlocked doors to no avail. Meanwhile, I shifted my attention back to the convulsing young woman, staring at her body. Tears blinded my eyesight. I was so close to her, yet metal and glass prevented me from holding her, picking her head up. So close, but so far away.
The older gentleman looked my way. ‘Let’s break a window,’ he said questionably. The older gentleman searched his vehicle to find something with no luck. The older gentlemen then rapped on the windshield to see if we could awaken the young woman or make her regain an ounce of coherence. I could see the panic in his actions. I could see the desperation on his face to just get into this car.
The 9-1-1 dispatcher began instructing me to look for medical signs from the young woman, to watch her breathing. The dispatcher asked if I saw her choking, if she appeared to be pregnant, if I saw any physical injuries. I was witnessing this young woman continue to shake uncontrollably, and now, she began passing out. I had not ever seen something like this in person before. I looked around and now saw a huge semi slow and pull over on this tiny shoulder too. A SEMI!
This just complicated traffic more. I said a quick universal prayer to keep us all safe on this bridge. A couple came rushing out of the semi with a large steel object, ready to break a window. ‘Hell yea!’ I thought to myself. I was feeling more empowered to take strategic action with every second that passed.
Next, I noticed a local dump truck slowing. He parked his truck behind us and put on what lights he had. Then, he slipped on his fluorescent vest and gave us the safety of operating in this emergency while he directed highway traffic around us. My prayer had been heard. I felt laser focused. We were making progress, and for a quick second, I thought to myself, ‘This is the kind of stuff they make up in movies, and I’m living it on this fast-moving, windy highway bridge.’
I was shaking with adrenaline at this point. I just wanted this young woman to pull through, and then I felt an overwhelming gust of superhero power kick-in. This young woman now had 5 citizens to her rescue. I was working with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, who now had me counting her breaths per minute as her convulsing was dissipating. Her breath was now shallow, and she was slipping into unconsciousness.
Panic and a sense of failure settle in. ‘Please wake up.’ All I wanted was for this woman to sit upright, open her eyes, and let us in. I truly believe if it weren’t for this older gentleman knocking his way around the glass windows, we wouldn’t have been as successful in bringing this woman in and out of consciousness as she began to blink her eyes open and shut.
I was reassured an officer was showing up at any moment. I glanced around. The older gentleman was still trying to awaken the women, the trucking couple was ready to break the glass, the dump truck driver was directing traffic, and finally I heard sirens. The back window shatters, glass sprinkles everywhere. Excitement flows through my chest, this is what we needed. Her driver’s side door quickly flung open, the vehicle was placed into park and shut off. Finally, professional medical help.
I now watched from a distance as I regained my own breathing. I woke up to my surroundings again, listening to cars flowing by; even with traffic slowed at this point, it still felt gusty as they passed me, whipping my hair across my face. I could see the young woman becoming coherent, opening her eyes, gathering her breaths.
I was removed from my own reality and quickly submerged into this stranger’s reality. Taken back by what just occurred, nothing mattered to any of us other than saving this woman. We gathered close, not realizing we were still in the COVID-19 pandemic. None of us had masks. None of us had a moment’s time to put attention on ourselves to even put on our masks. There wasn’t time: we quickly had to make a spur-of-the-moment game plan and get into action fast.
I reflected on all that happened that day. Earlier driving in my car, I was absorbed in my thoughts, feeling defeated by my own tough decisions and how negative conditions seemed to consume me. And then, suddenly, the world woke me to announce I am needed. It reminded me on that day that other humans needed me to show up.
I’ve never felt more secure climbing into my parked vehicle on a jam-packed highway. I felt my back muscles release stress as I settled against the back rest. What my heart felt driving away was evident: I was sobbing with accomplishment and adrenaline. I knew I had made a difference that day.
My heartbeat finally slowed, and my hands stopped shaking once I was safely parked, back at my work parking lot. I could not stop replaying the image of the woman shaking uncontrollably as I was running towards her car on the highway, looking down at the river over my left shoulder. As intuitive empath, I am grateful for what this experience showed me about how to show up with love for complete strangers.
My thoughts about how life had been tough on me were answered in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. When we support one another, show up with love in our daily actions, and remove selfish motivations from our hearts, WE BECOME HEROES. Ones who find the strength to persevere during challenging obstacles will learn just how amazing they truly are and the difference they can make. Make this year a time for positive change.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jasmine Vandeneng of Green Bay, Wisconsin. You can follow her story on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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