In October 2020, Amanda Rose-Monroe, CMA, was arriving to work at SamCare Express in Corvallis when she met the day’s first patient outside the clinic, an elderly woman arriving early for a flu shot.
The patient was let in and vaccinated before Rose-Monroe had time to officially open the door for business. As she waved goodbye to the patient, she saw a flash — a mattress delivery truck was careening across the curb and into the clinic parking lot.
“I remember thinking, ‘He’s not stopping’,” she said.
Just then, the driver, Doug Ackland of Albany, slammed into the elderly patient’s car, knocking her into the bushes and shoving her car into another parking space. Rose-Monroe called for Hank Wright, PA, who was at his computer.
He and Rose-Monroe rushed to help their flu shot patient.
“Amazingly, she had not been hit. She was alert and able to stand, so we made a triage decision that she was OK,” Wright said.
Jorja Opoien, clinic office specialist, brought her into the clinic to call her husband while others attended to Ackland.
Slumped against the driver-side door, Ackland was unconscious. When Wright got to him via the passenger-side door, he had a weak pulse. Wright, a newly arrived police officer and a bystander worked to cut Ackland’s seat belt and remove him from the truck. By the time they got him to the sidewalk, Ackland was in cardiac arrest.
Trained as a paramedic and emergency room clinician, Wright assumed the role of delegating and keeping everyone calm. Rose-Monroe began chest compressions and Addie Mata, CMA, from nearby Samaritan Urology, connected him to the automated external defibrillator. After the AED administered the shock, Rose-Monroe and Wright continued compressions until EMTs arrived to take over.
Ackland only remembers leaving a customer’s house, driving down Circle Boulevard and then waking up in the hospital. But he knows the quick action of the clinic team saved him.
“It was the right place to crash because they knew what to do,” he said later. “They had to act fast, and they did.”
Rose-Monroe said her CPR training just kicked in.
“I’ve been a medical assistant for 11 years and have never given CPR outside a class. You take that class every two years and hope you’ll remember what to do when needed,” she said. “I’m so glad I had the tools and knowledge to help.”
Ackland is glad, too.
“I’m so grateful to them, I don’t even have the words for how much it means to me,” he said. “A million thanks to them. They’re the ones who saved my life.”
After Ackland arrived at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, his doctors discovered severe blockages in his arteries that required triple bypass surgery. Also, while there, he was diagnosed with leukemia, a disease he hadn’t known he had. Now on the road to recovery, he has nothing but praise for his health care team.
“From start to finish, I had exceptional care,” he said.
Back at the clinic, after the ambulance had left, clinic staff surveyed the scene. They noted the fire hydrant, which had taken the truck’s impact, had been flung some 75 feet from its street-side location to just outside the clinic door. When debriefing, they marveled at how remarkable the whole situation had been.
“It’s one of those things you just have to stand back and wonder about,” Wright said. “Here’s this guy who goes unconscious while driving, smashes into a medical place that had just opened for the day and misses hitting a woman by about six inches. She’s OK and he’s OK. And then, while he’s in the hospital, he’s diagnosed with a medical issue he didn’t know he had, but now that he knows, he has a chance to prolong his life.
“All these things coming together … it just makes you wonder,” he said.