By Joe Beck -- email@example.com
Tiffany Shipe is not an emergency room doctor or EMT, but she nearly performed like one Saturday night while saving the life of a severely injured girl in a car crash near her home.
One moment Shipe was standing on the porch outside her trailer home with her mother, Debbie. Then came two sounds that would change her life.
"Me and mom was standing out on the porch, and we heard this loud bang and then a second later we heard somebody scream, and we immediately got in the vehicle and went down the road," Shipe recalled in an interview Wednesday.
By the time she returned home a few hours later, her clothes were soaked in the blood of Jymi Rudolph, one of the crash victims. Tiffany Shipe, a single mother and pizza parlor waitress who learned a little first aid and CPR in high school, had saved Rudolph's life.
The accident scene on Mt. Hebron Road was about a mile from Shipe's home on Waxwing Lane. Shipe, 20, said she and her mother arrived to find found four teenagers walking around the crash scene and a 2001 Saturn with its air bags deployed.
Virginia State Police have said five teenagers from Strasburg High School were riding in the car when it went off the side of Mt. Hebron Road around 10:50 p.m. The driver, Colby Cooper, has been ticketed for reckless driving and state patrol investigators say speed was a factor in the crash.
"I went to the car, and that's when I seen Jymi lying in in the back seat, covered in blood from head to toe, and she wasn't responsive," Shipe said.
EMTs were still minutes away when Shipe got her first look at the injured Rudolph. For the next few minutes, Shipe literally held Jymi Rudolph's life in her hands.
"I got in there with her, and it was just me and her, and she was not responding, and she was barely breathing," Shipe said. "Her mouth and nose was full of blood.
"So I stuck my fingers in her mouth and cleaned all the blood out from her mouth and nose, and she started breathing better then. I checked her pulse, and she did have a pulse. And then I kept her neck still if there was any neck injuries. And I had taken her seat belt off because it was digging into her stomach.
"The main thing, I just kept her breathing. She kept choking on her blood, so I kept cleaning it out, and I attempted mouth to mouth (resuscitation)."
By then, the unconscious Rudolph was breathing "OK," and she still had a pulse, Shipe said.
Shipe didn't know the victims, but the harrowing circumstances helped forge a bond between them.
"I was talking to her, and I told her God is watching over her, and her family and friends love her, and then she squeezed my hand like she knew I was helping her," Shipe said.
In about 10 minutes, the EMTs arrived and took over, but Shipe's work wasn't done.
Shipe said the other girl riding in the car appeared to be in shock. Shipe said she walked her over to the ambulance to get her checked out by EMTs.
Shipe described herself as "drenched" in Rudolph's blood and made her own visit to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital that night to make sure she hadn't picked up any infections. She said she returned home between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., but images of the injured girl she had saved haunted her that night and continue to do so.
"I haven't been able to sleep since then," Shipe said.
In saving one person's life, Shipe may changed her own.
The searing experience by the side of Mt. Hebron Road has opened up new career possibilities and relationships for her. Shipe said she is looking forward to meeting members of Rudolph's family for the first time this weekend at her home. Beth Rudolph, Jymi's aunt, repeatedly praised Shipe at a meeting held Tuesday night to give the public an update on her niece's condition.
"With all the things going on, we don't want to forget about Tiffany," Beth Rudolph told the audience. If you don't know Tiffany and want to get to know Tiffany, send her something. Tell her 'thank you for what you did that night.'"
"A lot of people cannot respond that way," Beth Rudolph added. "A lot of people cannot react the way she did."
Shipe said she now thinks differently about her own life.
"Because of this, I would like to get into the medical field, be a paramedic or something," Shipe said. "But more than anything, I'm just grateful for each day I'm given."