Marlon Brown was caught in a traffic build-up on the Llandovery main road, St Ann, as he headed for work in a taxi on March 1 this year. His first concern was about how the delay would affect his commute to St Ann’s Bay.
A firefighter based at the St Ann’s Bay station, Brown was on his way to drop his daughter off at a day care centre before reporting for the 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift.
“I called out to persons to establish reasons for the blockade. Finally, one guy shouted back ‘a just two truck crash up the road, and one man stuck’,” he recalled.
Once he realised that a crash had occurred, Brown’s First Responder training kicked in and he went into action. “Immediately my training chipped in and I called the fire station and told them to dispatch the unit as there was an accident”, he explained.
Brown was one of 15 volunteers in St Ann who had benefited from training in Emergency Medical Response (EMR) last year, as part of the First Responders programme of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation.
The programme equipped residents living in communities surrounding the St Ann leg of the north coast Highway with the skills to provide effective emergency medical care at the scene of road crashes. The main objective is to reduce loss of life, lessen pain and suffering and promote the optimal recovery of victims.
Brown acknowledged that while fire fighters receive basic first aid and CPR training as a part of their job, “the training provided in the First Responder programme was more in-depth and specific to motor vehicle crashes and medical emergencies.”
Brown cautiously left his daughter with a fellow passenger and headed for the crash scene. Upon arrival he observed that two trucks had collided head-on and three persons were trapped in the vehicles, while one person was on the roadway.
“One person was unconscious. He wasn’t responding to anything, neither sound nor touch,” Brown said, “Just the fact that I seemed to know what I was doing, the people gathered and allowed me to take charge of the scene.”
His training now fully engaged, Brown assessed the scene and delegated responsibilities to persons in order to help. “I later recognised that an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) was on the scene and, although he was a trained EMT, he allowed me to manage the scene,” he said.
“One man had an injury to his head and I didn’t have anything to help with his wound. I got the cleanest thing I could find, which was a towel, and applied pressure to the wound before moving on to another victim who was aware, but was in initial shock,” he explained.
Due to Brown’s quick action the scene was secured by the time the police and fire service arrived and the lives of two of the victims in the crash were saved. “In the end I gave the best I could provide, which was to help to save two lives,” Brown added.
Tyrone Llewellyn, district officer with the Jamaica Fire Brigade, who responded to the crash, commended Brown for his actions that made the job of the emergency response teams much easier, due to his organisation of the scene. “When I arrived he provided information about the casualties, who were present, those who were sent to the hospital, the severity of their injuries and the damage to the vehicles,” Llewellyn said.
Llewellyn also noted that Brown’s post-crash care activities were effective in preventing further injuries to the victims. “That assisted us, because in cases such as this one patient handling is important to ensure that we prevent further injury. What he did on the scene made our job easier in terms of knowing what we had to do,” the district officer stated.
The First Responders project is part of the JN Foundation’s Road Safety programme, in partnership with St. John Ambulance, the FIA Road Safety Grant Programme and the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA). It is designed to improve the behaviour of road users and enhance post-crash care, two of the pillars established under the United Nation’s Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 2020 as a framework for improving global road safety.