LETTER TO THE EDITOR – I am humbled to offer the following regarding one of Dixie State University’s Associate of Science in EMS students, Mr. Robert Skinner of St. George – regarding a tragic motorcycle accident on I-15 in the Virgin River gorge on Saturday, April 27th. We set out that morning for a leisurely motorcycle ride to Mesquite for lunch. As we began to enter one of the final curves just before exiting the gorge, a couple of cars that had just passed us were stopping. As we made our way around the curve, Mr. Skinner, as lead rider, proceeded forward on the shoulder of the highway. I was not sure why Mr. Skinner made the decision to not stop behind the traffic, so I instinctively followed him, as did my roommate on the final bike in our party.
As we rounded the curve on the shoulder, I could now see why Mr. Skinner decided to proceed. Just ahead, lying in the right hand side lane of the interstate was a body that appeared to be still, helmet still affixed, with another person bent over the individual. Without hesitation, Mr. Skinner stopped and secured his motorcycle, and was instantaneously next to the body in the road attending to the person and directing others to help and/or call for emergency responders. As I stopped and secured my motorcycle, Mr. Skinner shouted for me to bring my first aid kit to him and was directing the now 4-5 by-standers to assist him as he medically took charge of the scene. Once he felt that the female he was working on was stable and in no immediate danger, Mr. Skinner went back along the guardrail some thirty feet, climbed over, and knelt down for a few moments. I could not see what Mr. Skinner was doing, but later learned that the female in the road was the passenger on a motorcycle – and that the driver was lying in the grassy area just on the other side of the guardrail of the interstate.
Mr. Skinner had seen the body on the other side of the right hand side guardrail as he made his way to help the female lying in the right hand lane, but passed up this first person because he noticed that a jacket had been placed over the individuals head – meaning an expiration of life had most likely occurred. However, as his training and instincts led him, Mr. Skinner knew that his responsibility was to do all he could for the living first, then go back to check and ensure that the driver of the motorcycle had indeed passed on, and subsequently pronounce the individual dead as is the duty of the first emergency medical person to arrive on a scene.
What was even more amazing than the speed and professional knowledge Mr. Skinner exemplified as the first medical person to encounter this disastrous mishap…was the way in which Mr. Skinner calmly led and interacted with those who were not only assisting him, but with the living victim and the other two riders who were apparently family members of the deceased driver — employing uncanny amounts of care, understanding, compassion and delicacy. For example, the living female victim continuously asked about the condition of her husband who was lying dead just fifteen yards away – and Mr. Skinner instinctively kept re-assuring her that others were caring for him and that everything would be just fine. Mr. Skinner later informed me that the lady was in a state of shock, and that it was important to keep her as calm as possible to protect against further or additional physical, mental or neurological damage.
I felt it necessary to offer you a first-hand, eye-witness accounting of what I believe to be a fundamental and inspirational example of what can happen when a Dixie State University student puts into practical/real-world use the learned philosophies and methodologies within their particular field of study.
Charles L. “Chip” Campbell, Jr., MBA
Adjunct Professor of Communications
Dixie State University
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