Close Print View Issue

“I’m an ER doc. What can I do to help?”

Scott Russo, DO, Emergency Department physician at Mercy Hospital, was just finishing up a busy overnight shift at the hospital and heading home to rest when he came upon the accident. “The guy in the car was banged up pretty bad, he was sort of hanging out the window and wasn’t breathing well,” Dr. Russo recalled.

westbrook-crash-2-(1).jpgIt was 7:22 am on July 27. Dr. Russo was traveling on busy Route 302 in Westbrook when he came upon the carnage in the roadway—a head-on collision involving a car and pickup truck. The man in the car had the most serious injuries and was in and out of consciousness. The man in the truck was alert and conscious, but his legs were pinned.

Dr. Russo recalled that he had arrived at about the same time as the first two responding firefighters. He was still dressed in his scrub tops when he pulled over and hopped out of his vehicle. “I introduced myself and I said, 'I’m an ER doc. What can I do to help?'”

Dr. Russo said he assisted the firefighters by helping to stabilize the neck and breathing of the most seriously injured motorist in the car while waiting for other first responders to arrive with the Jaws of Life, at which point they extricated the man. “I helped lift off the roof, and we helped get the sickest guy out of the car and onto the backboard. We then stabilized his neck, which was important.” 

Dr. Russo has treated many trauma patients over the years in the emergency department, but had never been on the scene of an accident with traumatic injuries before.

Dr-Russo-1.jpg“I’m used to being in the ER with nurses, vital signs, equipment, and all that. So, out there in the field at the scene, I felt a little out of my element. I guess it’s a reminder of how good these first responders are—the firefighters, the EMS, the police. They just took control of the situation and handled it really smoothly and well,” he said. Dr. Russo downplayed his role in the accident scene and wanted to make it clear that the first responders are the ones who did the real work and deserve the real credit.   

Dr. Russo did receive praise from inside and outside Mercy Hospital for his actions. Westbrook fire chief, Andrew Turcotte, sent an email to thank Dr. Russo for his assistance. John Southall, MD, medical director of Emergency Department services for Mercy Hospital said he wasn’t surprised to learn of Dr. Russo’s actions. “I would expect nothing less from Scott,” Dr. Southall said. “This is another testament to our dedicated staff at Mercy Hospital whose commitment to patients does not end when they walk out our doors.”

Both patients were taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries and required surgery, but survived their ordeal. Dr. Russo said he was glad to contribute in any way that he could. “It’s a good reminder to drive safe and be really careful out there. It was a scary scene.”