By Rosanna Bauman
I have never before been so thankful to have a distinctive voice as I was the other Wednesday morning. I don’t really know what it is that makes my voice tone so distinctive, but I rarely have to identify myself on the phone, even to brief acquaintances. At that moment on Wednesday, it meant the world to have my cousin recognize my voice.
I rarely make it into town so early in the morning, but my brother Ivin had made an 8 AM appointment for my car. I dropped it off at the glass shop, then my brother Marvin picked me up and headed the 3 miles to the Butcher Block. Halfway there, we spotted a ruckus on the highway. “It’s an accident “we realized. A few seconds later we could see the car clearly: “that’s Maralee’s car! ” we gasped.
My cousin Marilee is just a bit younger than I and works nights in the emergency room at the KU research Hospital. She was on her way home to fill in a shift for our local EMTs when she ran into the rear of the delivery truck that had stopped in the highway to make a turn.
Her little blue car was demolished. Marvin pulled into the ditch and we leaped out. Although I was not fully aware of it at the time, my subconsciousness began to pray as I focused on reaching my injured cousin. If not for Marvin’s warning, I would’ve dashed across the highway heedless of the traffic. It was obvious that she was trapped in the crumpled remains of her vehicle. I was blocking the thoughts of “is she still alive? How severely injured is she? “And focusing only on one thing: “I’ve got to get to Maralee and let her know that I am here! ”
I was the third person on the scene, so I could see a fellow had managed to wrench open the passenger door and was speaking to her. I skirted around the driver side and walk up directly up to the windshield as the engine was gone. Behind the cracked and crumpled windshield I can see her face, her eyes vacant. I took a deep breath to keep my voice from trembling; then reached through a hole in the windshield to touch her bloodied hand. “Hey, Myrtle, I’m here.” I specifically used the nickname I had given her in grade school so that I would not be confused with an emergency worker. To my great relief I heard her say my name although her face did not show any emotion. “I’m going to pass out “Maralee repeated in a robot voice. And then “please call the EMS and tell them I’ll be late for work. “Quite certain that the news has already reached there; I assured Maralee that I would see to it that they knew. Marvin begin to call the rest of the family on his cell phone. Notifying family that their child is trapped in a wrecked car is not easy, but we were glad that it could be us, and not the law-enforcement that broke The news to our family.
Since all I could see was her face, I tried not to imagine what the rest of her body looked like under that crumpled steel. Emergency workers arrived to them, some of whom were her coworkers who were quite shocked to find their friend trapped in such ugly wreckage. While I don’t work in the healthcare industry, I have been present at many accidents and know how to keep calm and stay out of the way. I hung close around the car, conversing with Maralee as Marvin kept the family posted on her extraction progress.
The steering wheel was cutting off Maralee’s air supply, causing a loss of vision, so emergency workers ordered oxygen. On the brink of going under,Maralee heard the paramedic express concern over the empty oxygen tank.
“I’ve got a tank in my trunk,”she breathed, “use it!” With the oxygen mask on, Maralee’s vision and thought clarity returned, which was probably good, as emergency workers were a little emotionally involved trying to extricate one of their own. The paramedics responded with nervous laughter every time Maralee would give them an order, partly because they were relieved to have her conscious, and partly worried that she knew what was going on.
“Cover us up with a sheet!” she requested, as they prepared to cut her out with the jaws of life.
“Put some padding under my foot! “She pleaded as they pulled her onto the backboard. As they pushed her into the ambulance, she pulled her own pair of scissors out of her pocket so they could cut the clothing for examination.
I stepped forward and brushed her cheek as they slid it onto the stretcher: “you made it, barely “I said, around the lump in my throat. Since your parents are caught in traffic, I climbed into the ambulance’s passenger seat, and no one objected. We rode off, Code Red, with the state trooper clearing the road, and headed for a hospital 50 miles away that waited with a trauma team. From the front, I could talk to Maralee and keep her posted on the progress of the rest of her family and the prayers that were being said on her behalf. Maralee was stable and conscious, although in a lot of pain when we whipped into Trauma Room A. I stood quietly in the corner until they whisked me out as the X-rays were starting. Just then my uncle and aunt arrived and relieved me of the responsibility of “closest kin. “
My adrenaline left me in a rush, leaving me feeling like a limp noodle. But still I waited anxiously for an hour until we were allowed to see her. It was indeed a miracle that her injuries are not life-threatening. She has a crushed
ankle, broken foot, and a chipped wrist in addition to intense whole body pain. She’s able to be at home for her recovery, and we thank God for sparing her life.
Later, Maralee told me that, although she had no vision, the sound of me calling her name brought instant peace, she knew we would take care of all the details and be praying besides.
As a farmer, I spend every day feeding the world. This is certainly a difficult and noble task. But a life accomplishment even greater than this, I think, is to have given another the gift of peace
Editor’s Note: I talked to Rosanna about this a little more in-depth. Higher education is generally not pursued among Old German Baptist Brethren although it is not expressly forbidden. When higher education is pursued, it is generally in medicine. Maralee has a bachelor’s degree and her father is one of only a handful of Old German Baptist Brethren doctors in the country. Rosanna said there are also a handful of Brethren vet techs.