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Nursing student responds to crash near USI campus

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 5:56 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 8:16 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A University of Southern Indiana student got hands-on experience unexpectedly after a car crashed near campus.

Wednesday was just another women’s rugby club practice for senior Eleanor Conley, or Ellie, as she’s known to her teammates.

It was a quiet afternoon until it wasn’t.

That’s when a car veered off the Lloyd Expressway on-ramp, plummeting down the hill and flipping onto its side in the woods below.

Nursing student responds to crash near USI campus
Nursing student responds to crash near USI campus(Source: Mike Fetcher)

The rugby club was set to practice just steps away.

“What I heard, more than what I saw, was I could hear the daughter who was in the back seat,” says Conley. “Of course, our instinct is to get to her.”

Conley, without hesitation, hopped the fence and immediately rushed to the car. That confidence was carried by none other than a senior nursing student.

“I was incredibly grateful to have just finished my critical care rotation,” says Conley, “so I just left the emergency rooms and the ICUs.”

She says adrenaline and instinct took over. First, she worked to stabilize the driver’s head and neck.

“I just had to make sure she had a way to be able to breathe,” says Conley. “We were stabilizing her neck, making sure we were not creating any more damage by letting her hang there.”

Nursing student responds to crash near USI campus
Nursing student responds to crash near USI campus(Source: Mike Fetcher)

USI Public Safety Officer Nathan Devillez also responded.

Devillez says he immediately saw Ellie inside the teetering car, and asked if she was comfortable in that situation. She said yes.

“It was everyone’s thought that we’ll just stay where we are at and not jar the vehicle too much,” says Conley. “I was in place already, so that was an easy decision. I was already right there with her. I stayed until we had the vehicle stabilized and when paramedics were ready with a gurney to take her out.”

Rugby practice quickly turned into real-life practice for this soon-to-be nurse.

“I showed up,” says Conley. “I did what I was told to do, what I was trained to do. I had excellent guidance from the public safety and paramedics who were already there feeding me information, handing me supplies if I needed them. I was just in there in the right spot at the right time to be helpful, so I just say my prayers to the family that they are doing okay in their recovery.”

Conley says what makes this story even more remarkable, one of her previous anatomy professors happened to be driving by and also stopped to help walk her through the rescue.

No word on the condition of the two people inside the vehicle, but Conley says they were both conscious before leaving the scene.

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