From the Children’s Friend, May 1945 –
Danger on the Hill Road
By Marie Larsen
Linda frowned upon the rain beating heavily against the farmhouse window. “I knew it!” she muttered. “I just knew something like this would happen! On the only day I could go to town, I have to miss another Junior First Aid class. I’ll never be a nurse!” The disappointment caused a lump to swell in Linda’s throat.
It was terrible living out in the country where nearly every rain caused a minor landslide somewhere along the road to town. Never would Uncle Trevis allow anyone to travel the Hill road during a storm. there was danger of falling rocks, or of slipping off the steep grade, besides landslides. And today it had to rain!
Linda turned away form the window with a sigh. Did Florence Nightingale ever have troubles such as she was having? She took up the little first aid manual she had intended to take to the meeting. It wasn’t nice, having to study another chapter alone. She’d had to do it so much lately, too. And she didn’t think she could correctly apply any of the things she’d learned by herself.
The rain was slackening. There was only a soft patter against the glass now. But it was already too late. It was four o’clock.
Four o’clock! Linda sat up straight. Something exciting happened at four o’clock every day. what was it? Oh, yes, at four, Tom Peters, the rural delivery man, came in his blue truck with the mail. But he wouldn’t today! Linda relaxed. The other farmers, as well as Uncle Trevis and Aunt Mattie, wouldn’t expect the mail to be delivered now it had rained. Tom Peters knew the danger of the Hill road, too.
It was suddenly quiet, all in a moment. Linda got up, knowing the storm was over. It hadn’t lasted long. How bright and clean the new grass looked now. She lifted the window to get the smell of moist earth, a smell she loved. It was then she heard the thunder, a long, hollow rumbling off toward the Hill road. But it couldn’t be thunder! This had not been an electric storm. It was a slide!
Little prickles of coldness crept along Linda’s spine. Always when there was a slide she felt this way. Not because she was afraid of a person being hurt. they kept away from the steep road. but there were animals. Tiny, helpless animals that would not know which way to run to escape being hurt! Last time Linda had found a hare pinned under a rock. And she had actually seen gratefulness in its beady eyes when she released it.
Linda hurriedly tied a scarf over her head and put on her coat. this was her calling. This was what Florence Nightingale would do, give aid to the helpless.
In the kitchen, Aunt Mattie looked up, distressed. “Linda, dear. Why don’t you wait this time until your Uncle Trevis goes.” She brushed back the curtain. “He has gone to harness the horses to the scraper, now.”
“That may be too late,” Linda said. “Uncle Trevis will stop to clear every part of the road that is piled up the least bit. If I walk I can hurry faster. Every moment counts if some creature is in pain.”
Aunt Mattie smiled. “Bless you, Linda. You’ll make a fine nurse, some day. But do be careful! There is still danger of falling rocks.”
“I’ll be careful,” she promised, hurrying out and down the lane that led to the Hill road.
There were loose stones, large and small, every little way on the Hill road. Linda’s keen searching glances took in the slopes above the road, as well as the grade below, as she hastened on, watching carefully.
And then she was at the edge of the slide that had caused the thunder-like rumble. It hadn’t been a big slide. There was something funny about it, something she had not noticed about any slide on the Hill road before. There was a high pile in the very center and in the broken space between two huge rocks, she could see a square of gleaming blue metal!
Was it the cab of Tom Peters’ truck? It must be! Linda was suddenly weak with fright. Was Tom Peters buried under those rocks with his truck?
“Tom!” Linda cried. her voice was cracked with fear. She called again, loudly. “Tom Peters!”
Linda heard a soft groan across the slide. She scrambled weakly upon the rocks. the groan didn’t come from the pile in which the metal gleamed. It was farther away. Her eyes darted about. And then she saw him! Tom Peters was lying at the farther edge of the slide, crumpled in a frightening way.
She was at his side in a moment, crying, “Tom, where are you hurt?” Then she realized that Tom Peters was too nearly unconscious to answer. He had lost a lot of blood. His right sleeve, just below the elbow was soaked with it! And there was a pool of it on the wet earth!
Remembering her first aid lessons, Linda ripped his shirt away from a ragged wound in the man’s arm. She knew at once she had to stop the bleeding of the wound.
If only she hadn’t missed the lesson on applying tourniquets! She had studied it herself, and had practiced it on Aunt Mattie, playfully. But this might mean a man’s life!
She thought back quickly, carefully, remembering all she had learned. A tourniquet should be applied a handsbreadth below the armpit for bleeding of the lower arm. And there must be a pad to protect the bleeding artery.
Linda ripped off a pocket from her coat and folded it. She placed it on the inside of Tom’s arm, a few inches below his armpit, then she wrapped her scarf firmly over the pad and about his arm. “Tie a half knot in the tourniquet, and then tie a small stick with a square knot over the first one.” Linda could remember almost every word.
There weren’t any sticks near. But there was a slender stone sliver that had been chipped from a rock in the clash of debris. She used this, twisting the tourniquet carefully with it. She must not twist too tightly. And she must remember to loosen it after a few minutes.
Linda was relieved to see the bleeding wound stopping. She was so glad she could cry. And she smiled confidently when Tom Peters opened his eyes a little later.
“I tried to beat the storm,” the man’s effort to explain was feeble. “There were rocks in the road. I was clearing them away when the slide came.” His breath was coming in short gasps. “Got knocked down. Hurt my arm.”
“Don’t try to talk, Tom,” Linda said, soothingly. “Uncle Trevis is coming on the grader. He will get a doctor. You’ll be all right.”
Then she heard Uncle Trevis calling at the edge of the slide.
“Uncle Trevis, hurry!” Linda cried. “Tom has been hurt!”
Uncle Trevis came puffing over the rocks. He took in the situation. “Can’t get the horses over the slide,” he told Linda. “It’s too rough. They’d get frightened and break a leg.” Then he went on anxiously, “Think you can take care of him? I’ll trot into town for Dr. Simms.”
“I’ll try,” Linda answered. “But hurry.”
It wasn’t far to town from there, she judged, thankfully. After Uncle Trevis got there the ambulance would make excellent time back.
After a while, Linda took off her coat and tucked it about Tom. She was afraid he would chill, lying on the damp earth. She felt chilly herself. Rocks were still tumbling down upon the road. Linda could hear them as she kept listening intently for the sound of the ambulance. She found it necessary to loosen the tourniquet two times, about fifteen minutes apart, and then the Doctor was there to take over.
The Doctor’s expression of admiration for Linda’s knowledge of first aid made her very proud. Riding back to the farm with Uncle Trevis, Linda felt that she really could be a nurse, even if she couldn’t get to all the first aid classes. She had met her first test successfully. She had found knowledge of that in Tom Peters’ grateful expression, and in the Doctor’s quiet praise. And right now, as the horses jogged along the wet-smelling Hill road, she could see Uncle Trevis looking at her, admiringly.
She saw the same expression in Aunt Mattie’s eyes when they heard the news over the local radio station later.
“The life of Tom Peters was saved this afternoon,” the commentator announced, “when Linda Thompson, a local farm girl, found him injured on a road near the Thompson farm, and administered expert first aid. We take our hats off to this brave girl!”
Linda wondered – did Florence Nightingale ever have this wonderful feeling?