“It was like something out of an action movie,” Phil Barbee said, reflecting on his car accident.
Barbee was driving in the northbound lane of Tenn. 385 so that he could catch Interstate 40 back home to Nashville when he saw a large Dodge pickup truck go off the road in the southbound lane. He didn’t realize what was about to happen until it was too late.
A few seconds later, he saw the truck come up the median and go airborne.
“It was kind of surreal,” Barbee said.
The truck landed directly in front of his car. Even though he swerved, there was nothing he could do.
“I knew he was going to hit me,” he said.
Barbee’s car slid about 100 yards into the grass before stopping.
“I was conscious the whole time, but I couldn’t see anything because the airbags had deployed,” he said. “There was smoke, and I was afraid the car would catch fire. I just wanted to get out of the car, but my leg was pinned.”
He had debris in his lap, and his face felt gritty from the powder in the airbag and shards of broken glass. He saw his phone lying in the front seat, and he knew he needed to call his wife, Kathy. Luckily, the Bluetooth system in the car still worked. Barbee was still trying to tell his wife what happened when an off-duty police officer arrived on the scene.
“He asked me if I knew my name, if I knew where I was, and if I could remember what happened,” he said. “He talked to me until the EMTs got there.”
Once the EMTs arrived, they tried to use the Jaws of Life to get Barbee out of the car, but it wasn’t working. Finally, they slid a board down his back, and pulled him out through the backseat.
“While I was grateful they found a way to get me out, the pain was excruciating,” he said.
On the way to the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at Regional One Health, he kept thinking about his plans for that day.
“I just kept thinking, ‘I need to cancel this tennis match,’” Barbee said. “It’s funny how sane or rational you can be in that kind of situation. I clearly didn’t know the extent of what was wrong.”
When Barbee arrived at the Elvis Presley Trauma Center, they found that his sciatica nerve was broken, his femur was dislocated from his hip, and the hip socket needed to be completely rebuilt.
“The nurses really take a personal interest in their patients at Regional One Health and they really care,” Barbee said. “They were very accommodating to my wife, making sure that she was comfortable since she would not leave my side.”
The doctors were able to get Barbee into surgery quickly to rebuild his hip socket. He’s now back home in Nashville. He’s on the mend and doing quite well, and expected to be off crutches soon.
“I’m very grateful my accident happened in Memphis. If I would have been anywhere else, I might not have been able to get to Regional One Health where they saved my life,” Barbee said.