Even if a doctor isn't working, their medical knowledge will still be needed. After all, accidents can happen at any point, any time. When they do, doctors are ready to jump in and help out any way they can.
Doctors on Reddit share the time they responded to someone calling for a doctor. Content has been edited for clarity.
“It Was Like Muscle Memory”
“I’d nearly finished the 60 hours of Wilderness First Responder training I was in for that certification, and was on a bus headed home.
Someone said something like, ‘Oh my god, that biker got hit by a car, and is really hurt!’
I looked out the window and saw the injured man on the pavement, and that there were a few people around him, but none of them knew what to do. I asked the bus driver to pull over so I could help.
He was on the ground, conscious, but badly injured. I made sure an ambulance was on the way as I stabilized the guy’s head, and started checking his vitals and level of consciousness. I was recording it all in notes to give to the EMTs when they arrived. I hardly thought about what I was doing – it was like muscle memory. I’d been doing this 8-10 hours a day for more than a week.
The EMTs arrived within 10-15 minutes. I gave them my notes, let them take over, and walked to the nearest bus stop to catch the next bus home.
I didn’t really think about it at the time; I was just reacting to the training that had been drilled into me.
But two years later I was talking to someone who said, ‘Wait. I remember you. You’re the one who got off the bus to save that guy.’
I said, ‘Oh yeah. I did do that once…. You remember that? You remember me?’
I then got to hear the story from her perspective.
She said I jumped up and dramatically yelled, ‘Stop the bus! I need to help that guy!’, and it was quite memorable.
Bus drivers usually refuse to pull over anywhere besides a bus stop, but I was in rescue mode, and was issuing orders, which he followed.
My only strong memory about the incident was that the guy’s collar bone was clearly broken, but he wasn’t aware. His calf had gotten a bit torn up between the bike chain and the pavement, and that was the pain he was focused on.
Then one of the bystanders said to him, ‘Wow. It looks like your collarbone is broken.’
I glared at her as he started howling in pain. He screamed in agony from that point on. I knew from my training not to bring his attention to injuries he was not aware of in that state, but I’d never seen it in real life, and it was intense. I was really happy when the EMTs arrived and could actually do something for him.”
“The Whole Game Stopped”
“My dad’s a doctor, and one time last year he was at a game for our local baseball game. One of the spectators went into cardiac arrest partway through the game. The whole game stopped, things went silent as he ran over and assessed the situation before starting compressions. He and the baseball team’s doctor kept switching until an ambulance arrived, and I think he ended up being okay.”
She Immediately Sprang Into Action
“I was in the car with my mother who is a doctor, when a bad wreck happened about a mile ahead of us on the road outside town.
I didn’t see the crash, but all of a sudden we were pulling up to the aftermath, next to a gray-blue Subaru that had its entire front pushed in. The woman driving was still in her seat, sitting upright. I couldn’t see her feet but she had bitten clean through her lower lip so that I could see her teeth and gums. Part of her lip was dangling.
My mom got out of the car, and rushed the driver. She put her hands through the windows and held the women’s head and neck completely, still while telling her repeatedly that help was on the way and she needed to stay calm and still.
It was the most drastic case of code switching ever. My mom is a neurotic, scatterbrained nerd, but as soon as she was out of the car she moved so fast and was so focused. I can’t remember how long we waited there before help came, and they used the jaws of life to open the car. I do remember very vividly how the firefighter had to move my mom’s hands away from the driver for her because she couldn’t unlock her hands and arms.”
“The People In The House Were Panicking”
“When I was in high school, one of my neighbors asked for my mom (a doctor) because her husband had collapsed. My mom (who doesn’t practice anymore; she teaches in medical school) immediately went to the house, and assessed the unconscious man. She also asked me to come with her in case she needed something. As soon as we got there, I saw the people in the house were panicking just standing still and looking at the man. But not my mom.
She immediately checked if he had a pulse, and if he was breathing. The way she acted was so calm and so sure of what to do, I felt that the man was in good hands and in a way made me relax. I felt that everything would be okay since she was here now. An ambulance couldn’t arrive immediately, so she organized some neighbors to help transport the man to the nearest hospital.
After that whole thing was done, my mom acted like it was nothing and just continued with what she was doing before it happened. I think that was the moment I realized how amazing doctors can be, and how proud I am to have a mom like that.”
“I Was In Shock”
“I was on vacation with my family, relaxing poolside when I see people running to a different section of the pool deck. Couldn’t see what was happening. All of a sudden, people start calling for a doctor. My wife, CRNA and former CCU RN, was with me so we both start running over while my in-laws took our kids.
We turn the corner, and see a cluster of people surrounding a young boy. Apneic. No pulse. Pulled from water unresponsive. We probably worked on him for 30 minutes until EMS arrived, although we knew he was gone within 5 minutes of starting CPR. After EMS came, I continued to help with access and compressions.
After they left, we completed a police report and that was it. My wife and I were in shock. We have young kids and proceeded to spoil the heck out of them for the rest of the vacation. This was a busy pool, but unfortunately no lifeguard was on duty (typical for most hotels) and his mother was busy with younger siblings.”
It Didn’t Happen Where She Thought
“I heard these women screaming in the hallway of my hotel, ‘We need help! Does anyone know CPR?!’
I ran out the door and told these women I was a nurse. They took me to the front lobby, where they found a young woman who seemed to have overdosed. She wasn’t breathing but she had a pulse at first. It started to get weaker, then stopped all together. I had to do four rounds of CPR before I felt a pulse again, and it was right as the EMTs were walking in.
I work in nursing homes and most people are DNRs. I’ve never had to do CPR on anybody. It’s crazy that was my first time and it was at a freaking hotel and not even work.”
“I Was Afraid To Stand Up”
“I’m a physician assistant in a pediatric practice, and former combat medic. When I was a student in physician assistant school, I was flying home after a weekend trip. There was a call for a healthcare professional, but I was afraid to stand up since I was still in school. My wife kept telling me to go help but I was terrified. A lady in her early 60s had just passed out, and was slumped into the aisle just behind me. A veterinarian tech and a girl who used to volunteer at the hospital were making their way down the aisle to assist, so I finally realized I was the best available.
I stood up and went to go do what I could. We were about 30 minutes from landing, so I figured I could just try to keep her stable. I got a pulse and respiratory rate, but it was 100% impossible to hear any heart or lung sounds with all the noise on an airplane. This also made getting a good blood pressure impossible. The flight crew was asking what I needed, and I’m just thinking, Would it kill airlines to have an electronic BP cuff and stethoscope? and “There is nothing I can do but CPR if she dies.
We put her on oxygen and she eventually came around. She was lethargic at first, but quickly started to perk up. One of the best things I learned in my Army medic training was if all you have is oxygen, give oxygen. She had chest pain earlier that day and felt nauseated, but didn’t seek treatment. Never had a heart problem before. We landed, paramedics were waiting and took her off the plane right away. The crew thanked all who assisted, and that was it.
There was no big thank you or anything and I didn’t really expect one. The paramedics were talking to her as we walked to baggage claim. I said goodbye and wished her well. Nobody said a word in return. Weird but that’s kind of how it is sometimes.”
“Is That For Real?”
“My family and I were at Disney World, sitting outside the Garden Grill waiting for our table. All of a sudden, a server comes out of the restaurant and briskly walks by with a frantic look on her face to grab a defibrillator off the wall right in front of us.
I pipe up and ask ‘Is that for real?… Does someone need that?’
She responds ‘Unfortunately, yes.’
She was obviously super stressed because of what’s happening, and also the fact that Disney world is supposed to be a happy place, so she’s trying her hardest not to draw attention to some sort of crisis despite dozens of people watching this unfold.
My dad and brother were both doctors, so I immediately offer, ‘Well, we’ve got two doctors here if you want.’
Without giving it much thought (because she’s in a hurry and focused on what’s going on), she reluctantly goes ‘Uh, sure I guess… follow me.’
So they go in there to check it out. I stay outside with the rest of the family as we look at each other like What the heck is happening?
After what seems like forever, my dad and brother come back and they’re like ‘Everything’s fine.’
It turns out an elderly gentleman passed out while eating, and fell out of his booth and into the walkway. When my dad and brother got there, he had woken up so they checked some stuff (pulse, vision, memory, etc.) to see if it was something serious but didn’t find anything. I’m not sure what exactly caused it but they said that he said he would be fine, so they left it at that.
The meal ended up being pretty awesome cause a bunch of characters came by and thanked us as best they could (without using voices, obviously). We got a bunch of free food, and as we were leaving, the server lady came up to me to thank us again and gave us some free picture frames and signed pictures of the Disney characters that were there.”
Where Did That Guy Go?
“I was a med student at the time, waiting at the campus bus station downtown (after studying until 11pm).
A random old guy walked up to me and said, ‘I think that girl needs your help,’ and pointed behind some bushes.
I had nothing identifying me as a medical trainee at the time but ran over in my heels anyways.
There was a young man clutching a collapsed girl in his arms, who was convulsing and foaming slightly. They both looked like they came from a club. He was holding her like a bag of groceries spilling over, with a panicked expression on his face.
I checked vitals and put her in recovery position. I asked the guy if she bumped her head or had a history of seizures or ingested anything, but he said he didn’t know the girl, but she did tell him that she took some illegal substances, which caused this reaction. I asked a passing student to call an ambulance. Her seizure stopped after two minutes, but her reaction was still stuporous. She couldn’t open her eyes or obey commands, and only retracted to pain. I kept checking her vitals (slowly improving) and continued asking the guy questions to keep him around.
His story is that she jumped into his Uber out of the blue, and said she wanted to go to his place to drink. In the Uber she supposedly mentioned that she took some GHB in the club (which mixed with drinking can cause seizures). Half-way to his place she seized, and the Uber driver kicked them out. I came shortly after. I am not sure if I believed his story, or if he was the one who spiked her drink in the first place. The girl did have a lot of track marks on her arm, and the guy seemed genuinely bewildered.
The ambulance and police came and took the girl to the hospital. At that time, she had a GCS of 13, which was much improved. There was a crowd of people who gathered around and some campus police came by and demanded I talk to them. By the time I finished accounting the events the guy had disappeared. The police told him that he could go, apparently, since he didn’t know her.
I had real conflicted feelings about that one. Was he telling the truth or was he a predator? Should I have tried harder to detain him? I was only 21 at the time so I was more uncomfortable around authority figures. Nowadays I would have done things differently.
As for the mysterious old man that directed me to find the girl, I never saw him again.”
“A Bank Account For My Son”
“I moved to Germany for my studies two years ago, and my mom (who’s a doctor) tagged along to have a nice European trip before I started classes. We both didn’t speak a bit of German, but we managed to get around easily.
One day, we went to the bank to get some info on how to open an account as a foreign student. While we were there, waiting to be attended, an old Arabic guy started to sweat a lot and he was shaking too much. Out of the sudden, he fainted, everyone got worried, and started to ask for help. That’s when my mom jumped to help.
She started to check up everything you could think of at that moment, without really touching him, and out of the blue she started yelling/asking for candies or for something sweet. Apparently he was hypoglycemic, fainted because his sugar was low. The guy woke up, he thanked her, everyone thanked her.
The bank staff was so grateful that they asked her what we needed, she said, ‘A bank account for my son.'”
Emergency Mode Activated
“I was 25ish at the time. Just finished med school, fresh out of the oven. My friends and I organized a trip to a Cancún all-inclusive resort. So we arrive some time around 9-10 at night. We leave our baggage in the corresponding rooms, and head to the poolside for some drinks, since the bar was open 24/7 and we were tired and thirsty. So my gang and I are talking and laughing, when out of nowhere a girl comes across a small hill, running and screaming for a doctor. Everyone turns to me. I start questioning if this is real. If so, what am I suppose to do?
So I get up. I’m not really sure of what to expect, but I want to look cool for the gang, so I head out slightly annoyed. I pass the hill, and I start seeing a bunch of people (around 20 kids, early 20’s) surrounding this girl on the grass, who looks passed out. I can see her breathing, which makes me feel a little calmer. So I stop running, kinda like jogging. I start asking what happened, and some guy next to her starts telling me she was kicked by some dude, but his voice starts fading as I see the pool of blood around her freaking head. I start to panic and enter emergency mode. Take vitals, She’s alive but completely knocked out. I take my shirt off, and place it against what appears to be her head wound.
I start listening again, some guy she was seeing punched her in the stomach, kicked her in the head, couldn’t figure out why. He has escaped the scene, there was a mob of guys searching for him. They suddenly appear with him; this guy was also beaten pretty hard but he can take the punches. The girl meanwhile is lying down. I’m just checking her vitals, someone’s already called for the hotel authorities, they arrive not five minutes after. I’m relieved, tell them what I know, and they just scoff me away. They took her on those little golf carts they go around.”
“Felt So Numb”
“I was flying to LA for a job interview, and was sitting in the 2nd to last row of the plane. As I’m about to put my noise-canceling headphones on and enjoy the four and a half hour flight, I hear an overhead announcement for any medical personnel on the flight. Mind you, this was literally 20 min after we took off. I waited a few seconds to see if anyone pressed their button. No one did, so I pushed my call button. The flight attendant came to me looking worried, and told me to follow her.
She led me to first class (the 2nd row), and this woman was in her seat knocked out. She was with her husband and he said that she wasn’t waking up. I assessed her and checked her out. She wasn’t responding to stimuli, but she was snoring hard and her eyes weren’t budging. Her airway was patent, she had a good pulse so I reassured them. She was in a deep sleep (from mixing medicine with drinking, I presumed at the time). I offered to check on her every 20 minutes or so throughout the flight.
So every 20 minutes. I walked from the back of the plane to the front. Checking on her. Talking with her husband and reassuring them. As the flight went on, she would show more and more signs of being responsive. A hand would twitch. Her eyes would barely open then close. So on and so forth.
At one point, the captain asked to speak with me through the phone. There was a medical team on the ground, and they wanted the facts of what I found which I told them. They decided it wasn’t terms to ground the plane in an emergent fashion, and to continue on. So I continued my checks.
I told the flight attendant to let me know the absolute last moment that I could check on her before our descent. So she did. I walked up and I asked for some oxygen. I put the woman on oxygen just to oxygenate her (don’t ask why, she never stopped breathing and her vitals were stable the entire time). I just thought it would be a good idea now so that when we landed EMS was set to board and take her off first. So I do this and I walk back to my seat.
As I bucked up I hear a yell, and I see the flight attendant running up the aisle frantic. I threw my belt off and sprinted towards her husband holding his head in the aisle of first class crying. I got to the front and the lady had stopped breathing suddenly. Her fingertips were blue. Her pulse was nose ‘threaded’ (not a solid pulse. But very weak and not regular).
I ask the attendant to go grab the first aid bag, and ask for a bag mask (a device we use to seal a patients mouth on a plastic mouth piece and then squeeze a bag to deliver oxygen). She brings it to me and the thing is all zip tied shut. The plane began to descend, and I was off balance but I just grabbed the kit and literally tore it open with my hands. As were descending, I took my left foot and lodged it on the chair in front of me, so as not to get thrown forward as the plane would land and subsequently brake. I’m bagging/ventilating the lady with the bag, but her pulse started to worsen. I then took my other leg, and kicked the seat of her chair back so to get her as ‘flat’ as possible to do chest compressions and CPR.
As we land and I give a few compressions, the lady’s blue body turns pink and she lets out a huge gasp and her eyes shoot open. I continue to oxygenate her as I tell her everything’s going to be fine.
We land, and the captain instructs everyone to stay in their seat. EMS comes on board and I give them the story of what happened. Her husband hugged me and wept on my shoulder as they took her off. I then walked back to the back of the plane to the shock and awe of the entire plane.
Old ladies said, ‘God bless you,’ and ‘Thank you’ as I walked back.
Honestly, I felt so numb. All I wanted to do was cry myself because of the emotional roller coaster that was. I’m just glad she survived and did well afterwards.”