Reminder about moving injured people

Thread Starter


Joined Jul 7, 2009
On 4 Jun 2011, a friend of mine in another state (she's around 90 years old) slipped and fell outside. She slipped and tumbled into a ditch head over heels. She heard crunching in her neck and thought she might have been knocked out for a few seconds. She was smart enough to just lay there and check her body out to see if anything was paralyzed. Luckily, she didn't find any paralysis. It took about half an hour before anyone found her. The first person asked her if she could help her up. My friend was smart enough to tell everyone in strong terms to call 911 and get a stretcher, ambulance, and neck brace. Numerous people came up to her offering to help her up while they were waiting for the ambulance -- she wisely and emphatically refused any help. The paramedics showed up, got a neck brace on her, and took her to the hospital.

Here's the story in her own words:
Because <her city> has some of the worst pot holes in the country, the driver TRIED to AVOID as many as he could, but the ride to hospital was a rough one. Had to wait what seemed like quite awhile before getting an x-ray. Was told I had broken my neck in 2 places, vertebra C-1 & C-2. <a physical therapist friend> said if I had to break any those were the best ones to break. From here on things are a bit of a blur for me. Have no idea if I had operation that day or the next. Woke up with brace on my neck which I am STILL wearing. Can take it off to eat ONLY. Will be till September 27 th. when I see surgeon again before I know if I can take it off for good.
When I saw surgeon after surgery he asked if I knew how LUCKY I AM ???? I said I guess so a little. He then told me after he had seen the x-rays & got in there IF............ anyone had TOUCHED me before the medics arrived, one of two things would have happened. Either I would have been completely PARALYZED from the chin down, & at my age there would be nothing they could or would do for me. OR......... those people would have KILLED ME right on the spot.
My friend gave me permission to tell her story -- just to remind folks of the importance of not moving an injured person and letting the trained paramedics take care of someone properly. While you'd obviously need to move an injured person if something was threatening their life (e.g., fire, chemical spill), you'd only do it to save them from immediate death. This woman's smart thinking probably saved her life.


Joined Nov 28, 2009
thank you for posting such an important message.
We sometimes want to do too much for someone, and some want to be a hero without considering the consequences.
I am relieved to hear that your friend made it through the ordeal and glad she had pressence of mind to firmly assert for those around to leave her be and call 911.

Thank you again.


Joined Oct 3, 2010
I hear you can actually be sued for intervening. The story I heard was that someone was choking and a good samaritan gave the heimlich maneuver. broke a couple of ribs in the process, and the choker sued. I agree that you shouldn't move someone who has a potential neck injury if the situation permits, but not all situations are cut & dried like the one in the story. Perhaps you encounter someone who's been in a car accident and is unconscious; not able to give or refuse consent for help. Maybe they in their car is in a perilous position to be hit by more traffic or maybe is leaking fuel, potential for fire. One might move them, in interest of saving their life even if it means they might end up paralyzed. The sad thing is that they could actually be sued for it.


Joined Mar 24, 2008
Many states have good Samaritan laws to protect someone trying to help, especially for the situations that have good reasons to move a victim as you have suggested. They were originally meant to protect doctors at the scene of an accident, and were expanded later.

Thread Starter


Joined Jul 7, 2009
I have heard stories on both sides of the fence. Obviously, find out what's relevant for your local situation -- a good way is to take a CPR class from a recognized instructor. They'll know the local laws. Remember that ignorance of the law is not a defense.


Joined Jul 3, 2008
Years ago I had a girl friend that was a lawyer. She worked at a law firm that took the case of an elderly man who was not so lucky. I'll keep the story brief. Basically the man had a neck brace put on at the scene of the accident. At the emergency room he had an X-ray done. However, before the results came back, an arrogant doctor came in and quickly concluded that he was fine and took the brace off. The man instantly collapsed and was paralyzed from the neck down.

This man's horror story has always stayed with me ever since I heard it. It continues to make me angry and sad even years later. My girlfriend was even more affected by it because she interviewed the man, as well as witnesses in the emergency room.

But, the lessons are clear. Caution about moving someone is important. Being assertive by telling others to be cautious is important. And, sadly, arrogance can actually be a very dangerous thing!