KOKOMO, Ind. – Alexis Martin is considered a “godsend”. The nursing student at Indiana University Kokomo was the first to arrive on the scene of a head-on collision on her way to clinicals – and her nursing skills kicked in instinctively and quickly. She was able to assess the victims’ injuries and keep them calm until emergency responders arrived.
“I probably never would have done that if I didn’t have the nursing training I’ve had at IU Kokomo,” Martin said, a junior. “It’s amazing how your instincts kick in.”
Thursday morning, (January 26), as Martin drove to Northwestern Elementary School for a clinical experience with the school nurse, she witnessed the accident and took action.
She was driving to the school in the snow, following a Lexus SUV, when another car, a Kia, approached. One of the cars hit ice on the road and slid head-on into the other.
“I about hit them, but I managed to get to the side of the road without hitting anyone,” she said.
As she jumped out of her car, she followed procedures she learned in her nursing classes. She called 911 on her cell phone, and then assessed the victims. A mother and daughter were in the SUV, and both were scared, but not seriously injured.
“They were both crying. The mom was panicking. Both of them cried in my arms, and I wanted to cry with them, but I had to be the stronger one in that situation,” she said.
Martin then saw there was a woman trapped and unconscious in the other vehicle. She reached in and checked for a pulse, and was relieved to find one.
“That’s the first thing you do when you see an unconscious person, you check their pulse,” she said. “It all happened so quickly. In an emergency situation, you have to go with your instincts.”
She called to the woman, who regained consciousness, and then checked her for injuries. Martin said the airbags had deployed, and one of the woman’s legs was trapped.
“I told her I had called 911 and I would stay with her until help arrived. She was hyperventilating, so I told her to breathe, and stay calm.”
Martin said the woman asked her to try to free her trapped leg and get her out of the car. Not knowing the extent of her injuries, Martin did not move her. When sheriff deputies and medics arrived a few minutes later, they told her she made the right decision.
Howard County Sheriff Lieutenant Kurt Goerges called Martin a “godsend,” saying she did exactly what needed to be done as the first person on the scene.
Tali Harris, lecturer in the School of Nursing, said Martin “showed great citizenship beyond just being a nurse.”
"She really acted like a triage nurse in the middle of a trauma, and I congratulate her," Harris said.
Goerges said all three victims, whose names were not released, wore their seat belts. The young girl was shaken up, he said, but not injured. Her mother had bruises from the seat belts. The woman in the Kia suffered a broken pelvis, ankle and wrist, and a large “goose egg” on her head. She was transferred to an Indianapolis hospital.
“I think if Alexis hadn’t been there, the lady would have tried to get out of the car some way. By her being there, she calmed down enough to stay still until help arrived,” he said.
“We are very proud of students like Alexis who can use their skills to make a real difference in the lives of real people,” said Linda Wallace, dean of the School of Nursing.
Martin said she would never forget the experience.
“I just did what anyone else would have done. I’m glad I could be there to help.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.