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Around The Fleet

Ike Sailors Aid Motorcycle Crash Victim

Navy training lends to calm in the storm

When he tied his bootlaces and buttoned up his blouse that morning, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Douglas M. Herbert had no idea that his seven years of rate training would be put to the test before he arrived at work.

On that fateful morning, Herbert wound up exactly where he was supposed to be. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Herbert, Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Scott Cross and Airman Vance Wiggins all provided on-the-spot medical assistance to a civilian who had been thrown from his motorcycle.

Herbert was the first to arrive at the scene and immediately took matters into his own hands as he hurried to the crash victim's side.

"The guy flew off the bike," Herbert said. "He was going maybe 35 or 40 miles per hour if I had to guess, but he was coming into a turn. We blocked everything off with our cars, so I'm sure a lot of people were late that morning."

Herbert explained the situation and how it happened so fast, snapping his fingers to emphasize the point. The three Sailors checked the rider, who was not wearing protective gear, for bleeding and other possible injuries.

"As soon as I parked the car, I said 'I've got this,'" Herbert said. "As I rushed in, Cross and Wiggins were falling in beside me. I was just trying to be there for that man."

Cross said that when he reached the scene, he was terrified. He imagined that the man lying on the ground in front of him might be dead.

"I was with Airman Wiggins as we pulled up behind the other stopped car, which happened to be HM1 Herbert aiding the injured man," Cross said. "We immediately asked what we could do. HM1 directed us to talk to the man and make sure he remained coherent, which he did. Thankfully it wasn't just another Sailor. It was HM1 Herbert, an experienced corpsman, who took charge and really made a difference."

Wiggins said Herbert's actions in aid of the victim were quick and certain.

"We saw [Herbert] pulled to the side of the road and, without a second thought, we trailed in behind him," Wiggins said. "I was told to keep the victim's feet in the correct position. I wanted to help him however I could."

The Sailors also helped reroute traffic around the scene and called an ambulance. As soon as the ambulance arrived, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) hit the ground running.

"We helped the EMTs get a collar on him and put him on the stretcher," Herbert said.

"We gave them a rundown of everything that had happened, and we helped load him into the ambulance. No names were given or anything; we just got in our cars and went to work."

All three Sailors agreed that if the situation presented itself again, they would not do anything differently since everything went according to previous training and preparation. Herbert repeatedly asked the man questions to keep him talking and oriented, while both Cross and Wiggins watched his extremities.

Nevertheless, the pressure was on Herbert, who said his adrenaline and his training pulled him through.

"I wasn't nervous at all," Herbert said. He kept his calm and continued to treat the man for injuries until the ambulance staff took over.

"Cross and Wiggins could've saved that guy's life regardless of the treatment that we gave him," said Herbert. "They stopped traffic and called an ambulance, which was more than enough."

Herbert's modesty notwithstanding, the motorcycle victim survived the day. According to the Insurance Information Institute, close to 13,000 motorcycle fatalities and more than 93,000 injuries have been reported in the United States over the last three years.

"I'm glad we were there to help the man," Wiggins said. "I think without us, he would've been in a far worse condition. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time. It was quite a morning."