Reality deepens impact of Trauma Center visit

Posted April 7, 2014 / Last updated April 24, 2014

Print Print Email Email Share Share

From The Blue Jay, Vol. 86, No. 5, April 2014

By Kevin Credo, Staff Writer

Although I highly doubt that many people ever want to be flung away from their entire life for a day and brought to a hospital, that’s exactly what happens to Jesuit’s sophomore class during their year-round trips to the LSU Level 1 Trauma Center, as the students are shown just how precious and valuable life is.

While I was getting onto the bus the morning of my own class’s trip there, I honestly felt a bit nonchalant about the day. It was a mandatory trip, and I’m sure a lot of us viewed the trip as an escape, while the rest of our classmates back at Jesuit toiled away at classes for the day. I might be sounding a bit critical about the atmosphere early that morning, but the conversations on the bus felt a little too upbeat for a hospital trip. It seemed out of place.

Pretty soon, we found ourselves being moved through a winding stream of sterile white hallways to a little room that would hold us for most of the day.

The program, called Sudden Impact, focuses on the devastation that can be caused by drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Students hear from medical personnel, State Police troopers, and victims of the preventable crashes that result from bad decisions.

Things were pretty normal as we heard stories about how an anonymous someone had been killed, paralyzed, or changed forever by getting hurt in car crashes. The stories were far from anything that we took lightly, but as startling as the facts and figures could be, I couldn’t help but feel detached from them.

Of course, I knew that these were all very real stories that had very real consequences, but I, and likely most of us there, were only looking at this stuff because we had to. We’d heard about the innocent teen-age girl who had gotten paralyzed by a drunken driver and the police officer who got maimed by a speeding car. I felt sorry for all of their tragedy, but only so much emotion can resonate through a video taken with an iPhone or a PowerPoint presentation in a quaint little conference room.

Near the end of our visit, we were given a lunch break in the cafeteria outside of our conference room. We’d all just heard about so many of these horrific stories, but a lot of us were more concerned that we hadn’t brought along more money for bacon strips. While the rest of my homeroom classmates were finishing their lunches or just generally screwing around in the conference room during the remaining break time, I was eyeing the vending machines with great interest.

As I was looking through the glass of the machines, I soon noticed that I wasn’t alone there. Another young boy who looked about 13 or 14 years old was looking through at the same machines. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone at the moment, but he noticed my Jesuit uniform, starkly contrasted to his own casual clothes, and he asked me about the school. Soon, I started telling him all about Jesuit, and many of the things that seemed completely routine for me were fascinating to this boy.

When I had finally gotten around to asking him why he was there on the same day as us, I was expecting him to tell me that some public school in the city must have had a trip scheduled on the same day as ours.

“My mom got hit by a car,” he said.

Suddenly, in a single sentence, everything seen and heard earlier in the conference room became real. This was no PowerPoint, there was no fourth wall. This was reality. His mother’s life was in jeopardy that very second.

The boy told me that he was praying for his mother. I told him that I would, as well. I couldn’t talk to the boy much longer when I heard my classmates moving back into the meeting room. The rest of the presentation took on a different tone for me. I now knew just how close this all was and just how much this could hit home. I doubt I’ll ever shake my memory of that young man.

On the way back from the hospital, the mood on the bus seemed just as upbeat as it was that morning. It could have been very easy to feel some annoyance over my classmates talking about their fantasy football stats after I’d just witnessed one of the most important moments of a young man’s life.

But I began to realize that joking around and laughing might just be the best way we could live out what we’d learned in that hospital. The most serious message of the trauma center visit made me aware that life was so fragile. I came to the realization that it should be enjoyed that much more.

If we spend all of our time worrying about what could happen, we lose the joy of everything that does happen. Life is too amazing to pass up. I hope that I’m never going to be sent to that hospital in a helicopter, but I’m glad that I’ve been there before.