By Addy Hatch, WSU News

The man was in the middle of East Sprague Avenue trying to flag down cars, with no luck. Nina Thach and her boyfriend Dillon Voight slowed and rolled down their window.

“Help me,” the man pleaded, “I’ve been stabbed.” There was blood on his face, running down his arms, covering his shirt.

“Then we realized, ‘Oh, this is really bad,’” Thach recalled.

Though he had been stabbed five times, in one sense it was the man’s lucky day – Thach is a medical student at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane and Voight is a Tacoma firefighter. That October night Voight was visiting Spokane, and the couple was returning home from dinner.

“We didn’t see anyone running away,” Thach said. “We don’t even know how long he’d been like that.”

While Thach talked to the 911 operator, Voight led the man to the sidewalk and had him lay down. Removing his shirt, they saw two stab wounds in his left chest, two in his left bicep and one in his neck. Thach searched his backpack for something to use to apply pressure to the wounds and found a pair of new socks, still sealed.

Police and fire personnel arrived a few minutes later.

Though she’d just been in medical school in Spokane for a few months, Thach said her training helped her in a couple ways. Through anatomy class she knew which wounds to prioritize, and through a class called “The Art and Practice of Medicine,” she had learned how to communicate his condition calmly and clearly with the 911 dispatcher and first responders.

Police and fire personnel on scene complimented Thach and Voight on their quick reaction and skills.

The man was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. Spokane Police say he lived and that they haven’t made an arrest in the case.

A few weeks later Thach attended a workshop on the WSU Health Sciences campus called “Stop the Bleed.” “I wanted to learn more,” she said. “Dillon showed me how to apply pressure to the stab wounds, but I wanted to be prepared if there’s another emergency and he wasn’t there.”

Thach, the first in her family to attend college, wants to become a family doctor and said that’s what drew her to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“At WSU they were very kind, very open, they wanted to get to know me,” she said. “That reflected the type of practice I want to have with my patients, being kind and open, working together to establish a good relationship and a healthier lifestyle for them. That’s my biggest goal, and that’s why WSU was calling to me.”

As for her experience in October, Thach said she’s thought a lot about fate. “Apparently this man had tried to flag down two or three other cars in front of us. What if we hadn’t stopped? Or what if we’d taken another route home? Who knows what would have happened, whether he would have survived?”