Every Wednesday, Mayo Clinic nurses Kasi Reed, Emily Radcliffe and Saralyn Squillace drive from Rochester to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to attend classes they're taking for their doctorate degrees in nursing practice. And usually that drive is largely uneventful. But on one Wednesday in November, their trip back to Rochester was anything but.
The weather that day was typical of late fall in Minnesota and the roads, the nursing trio tells us, were a bit icy. "Cars were driving pretty slowly," Squillace says. Reed and Radcliffe were driving together while Squillace followed behind in her RAV4. Directly ahead of Reed and Radcliffe was a truck with out-of-state plates whose driver began losing control almost immediately after merging onto the freeway. "All of a sudden they just slid into the ditch and flipped onto their side," Reed says.
Following two cars behind, Squillace didn't see much of the accident – just the aftermath as she pulled off to the side of the road. Reed and Radcliffe were already out of their vehicle and running toward the truck. Squillace instinctively did the same. "At first it was hard to see inside the vehicle because the airbags had gone off, so we had to work our way through those before we could really see anything," Reed says. "The truck had rolled onto the driver's side so Saralyn actually climbed on top of the vehicle in order to get the door open so she could try to talk to them."
Identifying themselves as nurses, Reed, Radcliffe, and Squillace continued their injury assessment and rescue attempt. "When we could finally see someone inside the vehicle, it was a woman who was standing up because the truck was on its side," Radcliffe says. "We still could not see the driver because everything inside of the truck had fallen on him." The trio eventually made contact with the driver and determined neither he nor his passenger had serious injuries. Then Radcliffe tells us she "climbed on top of the vehicle to help Saralyn pull them out."
The man and woman, however, weren't the only passengers inside the vehicle. "They also had a large dog with them that was shaken from the accident," Reed says. "We tried to get the dog out, too, but it was so scared that we decided to wait for first responders to show up."
Squillace escorted the couple to her car so they could collect themselves and stay warm. When a State Trooper and firefighters arrived on scene, they got the truck back on four wheels and the dog safely reunited with its owners.
Reed, Radcliffe and Squillace's good Samaritanship, however, was not done. "They were actually on their way to Mayo Clinic for appointments, and since I was driving by myself I offered to give them a ride," Squillace says. "We were able to get them, their stuff, and their dog into my car, and I drove them to their hotel in Rochester."
A few days later, the couple took the trio out to dinner to thank them for everything they'd done. "It was nice to see them again and to see them doing so well," Squillace tells us. "We're just glad everything worked out as well as it did."
Thanks in part, to their training as nurses. "Our training definitely came into play, but I don't think we even thought about it at the time — we just acted," Reed says. "It helped that there were three of us together, and I think that was also reassuring to the couple because we told them, 'You had three Mayo Clinic nurses following you.'"
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