Sunday – Look Before You Leave
One of our long-time readers on the West Coast, Firefighter Dave recently sent along an article from the The Columbian, a Vancouver, Washington newspaper that I'd like to pass along some snippets to you.
The article leads off with an ominous (to me, anyway) statement:
A 16-year-old boy who was critically injured when a car plowed into him Monday morning waited about 90 minutes in nearby shrubs before he was discovered by a tow truck driver.
Right away I don't like the sound of that, and you probably already know where we're going with this. The story continues (in part):
He had been standing near the intersection of Northeast 82nd Avenue and Northeast 289th Street waiting for the school bus to take him to Battle Ground High School. Just after 7 a.m., a Nissan Maxima heading south on Northeast 82nd Avenue left the roadway and traveled into the ditch, crashing into a fence and some brush.
Clark County Fire & Rescue medics found the driver, Shaun Johnson, 46, of Vancouver, conscious and alert. She was transported to PeaceHealth with a broken arm. Johnson didn’t tell anyone, however, that she had hit a boy and no one else witnessed the crash, deputies said.
It wasn’t until Charles Barrett, a tow truck operator with Clark County Towing, had loaded up Johnson’s Nissan and was doing a final lap around the crash site an hour and a half later that he heard a faint "Help."
"The last thing I do before leaving an accident scene is walk from where they went into the ditch to where the car stopped, to make sure I get all the debris and don’t leave any personal effects behind," he said.
Well thank goodness for that. Over the past six years that Firegeezer has been publishing, we have continually pointed out examples like this with the reminder that crash scenes should always be scouted for victims, whether they were ejected from the vehicle or struck as a result of the errant car like this situation was.
One more quote from the article:
While doing this, he heard the cry for help. He called back to the voice several times before finally finding Carey only 5 feet away from where the wrecked car was, Barrett said.
He called 911 and Carey was taken by Life Flight helicopter to PeaceHealth, where he underwent surgery for his injuries: Both femurs were broken and his femoral artery, a main artery in the thigh, was severed, Carey’s mother Janette Chumley said.
"I didn’t understand how somebody could hit someone and not know it," said Chumley, adding that her teenage son is 6 feet tall.
While I'm a little dubious of the 5-ft. distance, it doesn't matter if it was 15 or 25 feet, this should never have happened. Never. We should never leave it up to the tow truck driver to find our victims. That's why we were sent there in the first place, right?
Now there could be some other facts that weren't put into the story that may explain how this happened, but I want to use this as a reminder to you that you must always check the area around a crash scene before you leave, the sooner the better. And I don't mean just stand beside the car and look around.
When I was on the job I had a set policy on all violent auto wrecks where at least two people from the engine company would do a physical sweep of at least a 50-ft. radius around the crash scene with the expectation of locating another victim. That means tromping through the grass and looking at every square foot. On an Interstate where incidents occur at higher speeds, expand your search even farther, 100 feet or more.
Always, always, always.
That will be today's informal drill topic in the day room after we finish the equipment check. I hope you'll make it yours, too. Make it an unwritten policy and enforce it at every incident. Don't leave it up to the tow truck driver.
Ok, let's get started with the checklist now while I get plenty of fresh coffee ready for our mini-drill. See you back in the day room.
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