By TARA SULLIVAN
RLC Learning Enhancement Specialist
There is a certain type of person willing to stick his or her neck out for others, to take a chance in order to help someone else. People who fit this description are commonly referred to as volunteers.
Whether the act of kindness comes at a nursing home, an educational setting or any number of other places, it is not unusual to find the same characteristics demonstrated by volunteers seem to influence all parts of their lives and actions.
On Wednesday, July 30, two members of the statewide AmeriCorps program directed by Rend Lake College had the opportunity to demonstrate how this spirit of selflessness could even save someone’s life. They didn’t disappoint.
It appeared to be a normal training trip to the Cache River for AmeriCorps members John Laury of Vienna and Brittany Freeman of Metropolis. That was before they showed their dedication to the fundamentals of volunteerism by assisting in the rescue of a State Police Officer from his overturned vehicle.
The two were riding in a van of participants in the AmeriCorps program when they spotted an accident which had just happened along the highway near Karnak.
Laury and Freeman immediately noticed there were no paramedics or police officers on the scene and asked Land of Lincoln Southern Seven AmeriCorps Director Dave Warner if they could stop and help since they both had medical experience.
Because the traveling party was so close to its final destination, Warner decided it was best to get the rest of the members to a secure location and then return with Laury and Freeman to the scene of the accident.
Laury and Freeman surveyed the situation and wasted no time taking control of the situation while waiting for other paramedics and officers to arrive.
The State Trooper’s vehicle had been completely upside down. However, during the time the AmeriCorps personnel had dropped off other members and come back to the scene, community bystanders had taken it upon themselves to flip the vehicle right side up.
Laury knew this potentially could have been a fatal move for the person inside if he there was a neck injury involved, so his first move was to stabilize the officer.
Laury, a native of St. Louis, is EMT-trained and has been a volunteer for years in settings such as a firefighting unit, in camps, and with the American Red Cross. His current AmeriCorps position is with the US Fish and Wildlife Service doing Environmental and Outdoor Education in the Cypress National Wildlife Refuge. His 12 years of experience prepared him to go directly into action. Was he nervous or scared about getting involved in this situation? "No," Laury responded just as quickly as he had reacted. "Something just ‘clicks’ and you get in there and just go."
After controlling the bleeding, with the aid of Freeman, a Medical Technology student who has had EMT and Licensed Practical Nursing training, Laury worked to calm the officer and held his body weight up in the 45 degree-angled squad car until an officer arrived with equipment.
While Laury stayed with the officer, Freeman took charge of the site and other people on the site. She directed traffic, cleared bystanders and served as an information channel to professionals arriving on the scene. Brittany’s AmeriCorps position is with the Faith Cares Mentoring Program in Metropolis. It is a non-denominational tutoring/mentoring program that also supports a food pantry and does family outreach.
Freeman was considering a change in her career track but now says, "Since this incident, I have decided to continue in the nursing field and become a fully licensed professional. This was very rewarding."
Both Laury and Freeman say volunteerism is a way of life for them. They are of the ideology that by giving back to the community they are repaying some of the kindnesses given to them along the way.
Hopefully, some of the people Brittany Freeman and John Laury have touched will continue with this cycle of giving and performing an outreach of their own.