Rescuers still in touch 1 year after Ecuador crash, Saskatoon nurse says
Nurses, doctor and pharmacist were all on tour bus at time of February 2015 crash
A group of people who helped at the scene of a highway crash in Ecuador in 2015 have kept in touch, including a Saskatoon nurse who recalls the event — and the unique circumstances involved — with vivid detail.
"It was probably the most unbelievable thing I have ever come across," Della Magnusson said, talking about the experience.
Magnusson was on vacation in Ecuador visiting the country as part of a tour.
We came together as a team and we did this incredible work.- Della Magnusson
On Feb. 23, 2015, their bus was the first to come upon the scene of a crash where an army truck had slammed into a car.
Without hesitation, people on the bus, including Magnusson, went to provide first aid.
She said what was remarkable was that there were several other medical professionals on the tour: two other nurses, a doctor and a pharmacist.
"We were just lucky to have everybody together on the bus like that," Magnusson said. "We just went to work."
She even had her stethoscope with her.
"I don't go anywhere without it," she said.
Five people in the car (a four-year-old girl, two young men, a grandmother and the male driver) were alive but had suffered serious broken bones and cuts and it was difficult to get them free of the wreck.
Magnusson said everyone pitched in, including the tour operator, who provided translation help. When the girl was extricated from the car, another bystander quickly got her into a vehicle to take her to a hospital.
Even after an ambulance arrived, Magnusson and the others continued to work, donning gloves, administering pain medications and helping to stabilize the crash victims.
"Once we got a bag and the things that we needed ... I just went from one person to the next, getting their IVs into them," she said.
After loading a patient, Magnusson remembered, she had to remind the ambulance driver to not take off with her still onboard.
"We can't leave," she remembered saying. "We're on a tour."
She said the crash scene, once the patients were safely taken away, looked very serious. She later learned that all the injured people were going to be OK, although they were facing long recoveries from multiple fractures.
"Everybody was alive. Everybody was doing well," she said. Magnusson added she has not had a recent update on the people in the car, but has kept in touch with the tour operator and hopes to learn more.
She has also kept in contact with the other people on the bus (there were 28 altogether). Today, they all marvel at how they were in "the right place, at the right time [and were] the right people" to help out, she said.
"It was the most amazing thing," Magnusson said. "We came together as a team and we did this incredible work, pulling these people out of this vehicle and giving them medical care ... all the pieces fell together. It was just unreal."
She said they are considering a reunion of sorts, possibly in Ecuador, adding the experience bonded them in a special way.