Saturday, June 27, 2015

CERTs in Action: Traffic Accident

CERTs don't self-deploy, and they don't go around looking for trouble. But when something happens right in front of a trained CERT, there's nothing that says that he or she can't use skills learned in CERT to safely help out until first responders arrive.

CERT 45 exercise, June 2010.
That's what happened last Monday when CERT John Morris (Class 45) encountered a two-car accident on Braddock Road. (John and I were classmates in Class 45. Here's a picture of him from when he was Incident Commander during our final exercise -- he's the guy wearing sunglasses.)

Now, judging by the photos, as car accidents go, it wasn't too bad. From a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is "fender bender" and 10 is "MICHAEL BAY MOVIE!!!," this one was probably a 3.5. You can see that one of the vehicles (an SUV) was on its side, but according to John, no one seemed seriously injured, and nothing was on fire,etc.

One of the two vehicles involved in the accident. Photos by John Morris

This overturned SUV was the second vehicle involved in the accident.
So, while there was no need for John to run in with a fire extinguisher, slap on a pressure dressing, or whip out a seat belt cutter, there were still simple things he was able to do to help out before first responders arrived.

Here's what happened, in John's own words:
"Just to clarify, both drivers were OK. I spoke with the woman in the SUV turned on its side and made sure she was OK, and didn't have any major injuries. She had a good gash on her elbow and I was able to hand her some gauze wraps that I had in my 'go bag' in my truck. She wiped her arm off to make sure the bleeding had stopped. I asked her some questions and tried to get her to stay still but she insisted she was OK, and wanted to climb out of the back hatch that opened upon impact. I helped clear the 'stuff' out of the way and she crawled out the back. The Police Department and Fire Department arrived and I left."
So, let's do some Saturday night quarterbacking: John didn't make things worse; he gave the driver some gauze so she could self-treat her minor injury; he didn't commit assault trying to force her to stay in the vehicle; and he got out of the way when police and fire personnel arrived.

All told, sounds like a good morning's work for a citizen, and a job well done. Good work, John!

Have a thought about John's response, or your own story to share about a time when you used your CERT skills to help out? Leave a comment below.

Joe Loong, volunteer Social Media Specialist for Fairfax County CERT, is an editorial content and community engagement consultant. You can email him at

1 comment:

  1. Well-meaning but untrained people can do more harm than good (i.e. in the case of a spinal injury). It is fortunate that there are trained CERTs like John Morris who know what to do (and what not to do) in cases like this. More people should get the training.


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