Updated September 21, 2021 - 5:09 pm
Liz Groesbeck was en route to a Raiders preseason game on a first date last month when she came upon a grisly accident scene near Allegiant Stadium.
When the third-year medical student saw a crowd forming around a man lying on the sidewalk, she leapt out of her Uber to see if she could help. She then heard screams.
“I saw why they were screaming. His entire arm was off,” said Groesbeck, a student at UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine. “He was bleeding profusely. That’s when I kind of just went into first-aid mode.”
An SUV had jumped the curb, striking the man and sending him flying into a pole. Police said the driver fled on foot.
The man’s arm was severed above the elbow and his face was seriously injured. Choking on his own blood, he was barely breathing.
Bystanders were asking if there was a doctor present. When none came forward, Groesbeck took control of the scene, figuring, “No grown-ups here today. I guess it’s just me.”
She asked someone to call 9-1-1 and someone else to tend to the man’s distraught wife.
She requested a belt to create a tourniquet. Several bystanders immediately handed over theirs. She asked for a shirt to help clear the man’s mouth of blood. Fans gave her the Raiders jerseys off their backs. Another student from a different program, whose name did not know, helped apply the tourniquet.
“It was another one of those examples of just how Vegas people will stop and help and will do everything they can and be pretty selfless in trying to take care of people who need it,” said Groesbeck, who was born and raised in Henderson, where her father served a term as mayor in the 1990s.
She rejected well-intentioned advice from bystanders to turn the man on his side and an offer of a drinking straw to help the man breathe.
How to save a life
One of Groesbeck’s professors, who also treated the man at a Las Vegas hospital, said the student’s actions helped to save his life.
Without concern for her own well-being, she was able to “focus on that stranger in his crucial time of need,” said Dr. Douglas Fraser, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the medical school and trauma chief at University Medical Center. “It speaks volumes of her character.”
Groesbeck shares the credit.
“I feel like a lot of people did a lot of things and a lot of things went right, that his life was saved,” including the EMTs who arrived at the scene within minutes, despite stalled traffic, she said.
The man “got incredibly lucky on what was most likely one of the most unlucky days of his life,” she said.
Fraser said he could not speak about the man’s outcome because of patient privacy concerns. But Groesbeck said she had learned that the man was released from the hospital a week after the accident.
Las Vegas police arrested Ashleigh Nicole Bacon, 32, in connection with the hit-and-run on Aug. 14 before the Raiders first preseason game, according to a police report. She faces two counts of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and single counts failing to stop at the scene of an accident and driving without a license, jail records show.
Groesbeck said her ability to assist the man was “one of those validating moments” for her medical training and often difficult studies.
Early on, Groesbeck and other UNLV students received instruction and certification as emergency medical technicians, learning skills such as how to triage a patient and apply a tourniquet.
Outside of class, she finds the constant studying grueling.
“Sitting and studying all the time is terrible. It’s not a fun experience,” she said. “I hate every moment of it.
“But when there’s a situation like that, and I can actually help somebody, that’s one of those moments where it just is like sort of a reminder of this is why I’m doing all of this.”
Review-Journal reporter Jonah Dylan contributed to this report.