Stopping to help (or call for help) when pulling up on devastation

Mar 8, 2016
176
256
11
Bloomington, IL
For me personally as someone trained in Confined Space entry and rescue, I treat compromised buildings and structures like confined spaces. I will not personally enter as I'm not trained in Search and Rescue, nor is there any kind of plan in place with this kind of situation. With confined spaces at least, a large portion of the deaths associated with them come from would be rescuers trying to do the right thing and save the victim and then becoming victims themselves as they had no idea what to expect, and I cant imagine Search and Rescue in compromised structures being any different in that regard.

Sure, I will stop and call 911 for help and assist anyone not currently trapped if I'm first on the scene, but I will not enter any damaged structures whatsoever. It's beyond my scope of training and I'd rather not add to the victim pool unnecessarily.
 
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Apr 16, 2017
16
10
1
richland hills, tx
So what you're saying is somebody who has no training should risk their life to get out RIGHT AFTER A TORNADO HIT THE HOUSE 1 MINUTE PRIOR and debris is still being flung around to check a house Then putting themselves in danger and risking more casualties? If you watch the video you can see the car being pushed towards the ditch which is why he was in the middle of the road and once oncoming traffic was seen he moved over. He was also dodging debris on the ground. You don't know Scott and why he made the decisions he did. Nobody wants to see what very well could have been in that house again like we have before. Stop trying to crucify this man You are not required to put yourself in danger during to attempt to rescue somebody else. This is beyond ridiculous.
 
Apr 22, 2010
33
20
6
Richmond, VA
So what you're saying is somebody who has no training should risk their life to get out RIGHT AFTER A TORNADO HIT THE HOUSE 1 MINUTE PRIOR and debry is still being flung around to check a house Then putting themselves in danger and risking more casualities? If you watch the video you can see the car being pushed towards the ditch which is why he was in the middle of the road and once on coming traffic was seen he moved over. He was also dodging debry on the ground. You don't know scott and why he made the decisions he did. Nobody wants to see what very well could have been in that house again like we have before. Stop trying to crucify this man You are not required to put yourself in danger during to attempt to rescue somebody else. This is beyond ridiculous.
I don't think anyone has said that at all. There are plenty of options between doing nothing and risking your life in some rescue attempt.
 

Peter Potvin

Staff member
May 20, 2018
108
41
6
Pembroke, ON, Canada
So what you're saying is somebody who has no training should risk their life to get out RIGHT AFTER A TORNADO HIT THE HOUSE 1 MINUTE PRIOR and debry is still being flung around to check a house Then putting themselves in danger and risking more casualities? If you watch the video you can see the car being pushed towards the ditch which is why he was in the middle of the road and once on coming traffic was seen he moved over. He was also dodging debry on the ground. You don't know scott and why he made the decisions he did. Nobody wants to see what very well could have been in that house again like we have before. Stop trying to crucify this man You are not required to put yourself in danger during to attempt to rescue somebody else. This is beyond ridiculous.
They're not trying to say that you need to physically help them and risk your own safety, but rather call 911 so you do not become a casualty yourself. If you do not have the training or equipment, don't risk your own safety going into compromised buildings to search for people - leave that to the professionals who do have the training and equipment.

Sent from my LG-K210 using Tapatalk
 
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If you have the right training then yes, you should stop and help. Because technically you are the first responder. If you are someone who likes to chase severe weather but you have absolutely no training with natural disasters or first aid or any kind of medical training at all. You should probably not stop to help. Even if it's morally wrong, you could also become a victim by not knowing what you are doing. if you are in the situation where you do not know what to do because you're not trained or anything like that, then simply let emergency personnel know where the damage is so they can get to it sooner rather than later. Just my two cents.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Stormtrack mobile app
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,535
2,204
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
This is it, guys. This answers every question. This training is a must-do. All of the material is even in online form. I'm really surprised this has never made it into mainstream chasing before now. Should have been on the list of essentials all along!

Put going through this site's training on your schedule this week and/or weekend. Share it with every chaser group you are in. Do it before the season gets going!

https://www.ready.gov/community-emergency-response-team
 

Todd Lemery

Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
479
467
21
54
Menominee, MI
Could someone in the EMS/fire/responder community chime in as a professional to address these concerns that might dissuade a chaser from entering a fresh tornado damage path:

1.) Risk of serious lacerations/punctures from sharp objects (glass, nails, sheet metal, etc)

2.) Risk of live electric lines, both transmission/distribution and interior household wiring

3.) Risks from leaking gas lines and/or chemical substances

4.) Risk of liability for improper treatment of victims (making a tourniquet too tight, worsening a broken bone injury, etc).

5.) Being in the way of first responders (vehicle or in person)

6.) Some basic equipment/tools/clothing items to keep in a vehicle for these purposes.

Let's get some basic training information out there dealing with each one of those items (procedures/best practices/etc.) If we get enough replies, I'll separate them into their own post and sticky it.
I’m a professional firefighter that has never responded to a tornado incident in an official capacity, but I have been assisted at many events by citizens with no formal training and was grateful for the help.

1) There is a strong risk of cuts and puncture wounds unless you wear gloves and boots with a steel shank. In that case the risk is pretty low.

2) In a single building incident the electrical risk is pretty high. In a situation where there is widespread devastation like we just saw in Georgia, the risk is much lower because the entire grid is compromised.

3) Unless the damage is to an industrial building, I wouldn’t worry too much about chemical exposure. It’s pretty likely you’ll come across gas leaks though. My advice would be to work into the wind so if the smell of gas gets really strong you are aware of it and can divert around it.

4) Every state is a little different on liability. You are not likely to be successfully sued though,unless you have been trained how to do something and just completely do something contrary to it. Good Samaritan laws are pretty firm in protecting people. It’s much better overall for people to at least try to help as opposed to looking the other way. Too many lawsuits would discourage people from helping.

5) If you are in the way, they’ll let you know. Otherwise the help is probably welcome. Park your vehicles as far off the road as you reasonably can so the bigger vehicles like fire trucks can get through.

6) I’m a big proponent of people at least taking first aid/CPR classes and keeping up with the refreshers. The more equipment you have packed away in your vehicle the better. If I had to pick just two things to have with me, it would be my first aid kit and chainsaw. Every first aid kit should have plenty of gauze and flexible splints. Along with the normal stuff I have airways and suction in my bag. The chainsaw is pretty self-explanatory.

Please don’t think that there’s nothing you can do. Some people surprise themselves with what they accomplish when push comes to shove and sometimes just being there to comfort someone makes a big difference!
 
May 18, 2013
382
298
11
Dan is correct, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is essential for any chaser that thinks they would or might stop and help. I highly recommend you sign up and take the class in person for your local Fire or Emergency Mgmt department , as you will get a lot more out of the exercises than you could ever get just from reading the slides (not to mention many classes give free go kits loaded with supplies). The 10 session (typically free) course covers everything from first aid, to turning off gas, to light search and resecue, to disaster psychology, and more. In my class we even lifted collapsed walls and cars off dummies. Most importantly it teaches you skills on how not to became another victim when you try to help. The "size up" is critical before you try to help. If you chase long enough you will be first on scene to a disaster, and even when the pros arrive they will be out numbered and will appreciate trained help until the mural aid responders arrive.
 
May 18, 2013
382
298
11
We need to be careful here. The incident earlier this year with the kid in the MAGA hat and the Native American at the Lincoln Memorial hopefully has taught us that just because we have a video of something doesn't always mean we know the whole story. I saw both the orginal and edited videos , and while I do agree that it looks like Scott didn't stop, the video is two videos edited together and we have no way if telling if Scott did leave did he maybe have second thoughts and come back? I will also note that several vehicles flashed lights at him, but my thought was it was because they where trying to warn him about the tornado ahead and had nothing to do with his driving. I'm not trying to make excesses for Scott. I'm glad Randy posted this, because the decision to stop and help, call 911, or do something else (or nothing). Is a question every chaser needs to consider.
 
Feb 19, 2007
176
79
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
Could someone in the EMS/fire/responder community chime in as a professional to address these concerns that might dissuade a chaser from entering a fresh tornado damage path:

Dan,
I am a 28 year career Fire Battalion Chief in Texas. The risk on every item listed below is very real. But, by design, chasers find themselves as the first on scene in these damage paths on pretty regular basis. I would never suggest it is a good idea for untrained folks to operate in this dangerous situation. But, even without training, a storm chaser who finds themselves in this situation should call 911 to report destroyed homes. It is the ground truth that is needed to send help to those who may need it. This simple act of calling 911 is considered "Rendering aid".

1.) Risk of serious lacerations/punctures from sharp objects (glass, nails, sheet metal, etc).
Lots of laceration risks.

2.) Risk of live electric lines, both transmission/distribution and interior household wiring.

To stay alive, always treat them like they are live. Even worse is flashback when the power grid is down. A Lightning strike anywhere along the line can re-energize the grid.

3.) Risks from leaking gas lines and/or chemical substances.
Especially along railroads

4.) Risk of liability for improper treatment of victims (making a tourniquet too tight, worsening a broken bone injury, etc).
You can perform live saving functions, to your level of training, under the good Samaritan law. If your trained in first aid, you can perform first aid. If you are not trained on anything then sometimes rolling someone over may just open their airway.

5.) Being in the way of first responders (vehicle or in person).
You are not in their way if the responders are not there yet. Rule # 1, don't become part of the problem. When the responders get there, relay what you know and ask if they need help. I have allowed citizens to help on some pretty big incidents. If I don't need help, I thank them and send them on their way.

6.) Some basic equipment/tools/clothing items to keep in a vehicle for these purposes.
Get trained in First aid and CPR. Bring what you need to take care of yourself and a first aid kit. Those who carry medical gear routinely are not always covered by the Good Sam law. Those who claim they are a first responder and are not can be subject to some legal issues.

Let's get some basic training information out there dealing with each one of those items (procedures/best practices/etc.) If we get enough replies, I'll separate them into their own post and sticky it.
 
Feb 19, 2007
176
79
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
Dan,
I am a 28 year career Fire Battalion Chief in Texas. The risk on every item listed below is very real. But, by design, chasers find themselves as the first on scene in these damage paths on pretty regular basis. I would never suggest it is a good idea for untrained folks to operate in this dangerous situation. But, even without training, a storm chaser who finds themselves in this situation should call 911 to report destroyed homes. It is the ground truth that is needed to send help to those who may need it. This simple act of calling 911 is considered "Rendering aid".

1.) Risk of serious lacerations/punctures from sharp objects (glass, nails, sheet metal, etc).
Lots of laceration risks.

2.) Risk of live electric lines, both transmission/distribution and interior household wiring.

To stay alive, always treat them like they are live. Even worse is flashback when the power grid is down. A Lightning strike anywhere along the line can re-energize the grid.

3.) Risks from leaking gas lines and/or chemical substances.
Especially along railroads

4.) Risk of liability for improper treatment of victims (making a tourniquet too tight, worsening a broken bone injury, etc).
You can perform live saving functions, to your level of training, under the good Samaritan law. If your trained in first aid, you can perform first aid. If you are not trained on anything then sometimes rolling someone over may just open their airway.

5.) Being in the way of first responders (vehicle or in person).
You are not in their way if the responders are not there yet. Rule # 1, don't become part of the problem. When the responders get there, relay what you know and ask if they need help. I have allowed citizens to help on some pretty big incidents. If I don't need help, I thank them and send them on their way.

6.) Some basic equipment/tools/clothing items to keep in a vehicle for these purposes.
Get trained in First aid and CPR. Bring what you need to take care of yourself and a first aid kit. Those who carry medical gear routinely are not always covered by the Good Sam law. Those who claim they are a first responder and are not can be subject to some legal issues.

Let's get some basic training information out there dealing with each one of those items (procedures/best practices/etc.) If we get enough replies, I'll separate them into their own post and sticky it.
 
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Reactions: Jeff House
Feb 19, 2007
176
79
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
If you have the right training then yes, you should stop and help. Because technically you are the first responder. If you are someone who likes to chase severe weather but you have absolutely no training with natural disasters or first aid or any kind of medical training at all. You should probably not stop to help. Even if it's morally wrong, you could also become a victim by not knowing what you are doing. if you are in the situation where you do not know what to do because you're not trained or anything like that, then simply let emergency personnel know where the damage is so they can get to it sooner rather than later. Just my two cents.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Stormtrack mobile app
Calling 911 and letting them know of damaged homes is rendering aid. I would hope most chasers would do this.
 
We need to be careful here. The incident earlier this year with the kid in the MAGA hat and the Native American at the Lincoln Memorial hopefully has taught us that just because we have a video of something doesn't always mean we know the whole story. I saw both the orginal and edited videos , and while I do agree that it looks like Scott didn't stop, the video is two videos edited together and we have no way if telling if Scott did leave did he maybe have second thoughts and come back? I will also note that several vehicles flashed lights at him, but my thought was it was because they where trying to warn him about the tornado ahead and had nothing to do with his driving. I'm not trying to make excesses for Scott. I'm glad Randy posted this, because the decision to stop and help, call 911, or do something else (or nothing). Is a question every chaser needs to consider.
Not sure why the video was removed and edited? This seems odd.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,535
2,204
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Thank you everyone for the input. The CERT material is absolute gold. I know for me personally, the decision process in the heat of the chase often includes those reservations about being untrained and all of the safety risks. That made me more hesitant to try and do more than calling 911 in a situation similar to Scott's. CERT answers those questions and shows that help can indeed be accomplished by most anyone who is trained and equipped, chasers included.

I think that there should be a push to get all chasers to go through at least basic CERT training. That doesn't mean that we respond to every and any scene, but if we happen to be there first (which as it's been pointed out, we often are), we have a chance of doing something useful without making things worse for ourselves and others.

The problem is we all know not everyone is going to go through the entire online material, let alone take a class. What can we do to at least get the fundamentals out to everyone? For example, I've only gone through a small part of the material, but I know now that I'm going to make sure I have everything on this list in my chase vehicle before this season begins. You really can't even begin to do any type of on-site assistance safely without them:

- helmet
- goggles
- mask
- work gloves
- rubber gloves (worn under the work gloves)
- reflective vest
- flashlight
- hard-toed work boots
 
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May 4, 2016
12
5
6
Mississippi
I feel like his chase should've ended right there. I would hate to know i left a scene and someone died later from injuries they suffered that might could've been prevented if a first responder could help. Im assuming he alerted the authorities to damage location, and if not shame on him.
 

Ben Grizzell

Enthusiast
Mar 4, 2019
5
3
0
Nashville, TN
You know, I don't want to bash the guy. I wholeheartedly agree with Randy, we only know what we can gather from a 3 min video. I wasn't there, I don't know what was going through his head, and I know how difficult it can be to stay on a tornado in the southeast... but come on. He literally used the driveway (as it appeared) to turn around outside a home that was flattened right in front of him.

I'm positive he was aware that the storm was causing a loss of life, that tornado was a killer and it would be obvious to anyone who saw it, especially a seasoned chaser like Scott! Time = Life in those situations - victims may not live long enough for overwhelmed first responders to arrive but could possibly survive with immediate help from someone nearby, like a storm chaser. Was there a casualty in one of those homes? Would they have survived had he given assistance? Who's to say. Certainly not me, I hate to even beg such an insensitive question, but it makes my point. I have never chased a deadly storm, but personally, I feel obligated to help if I ever arrive at a scene before first responders do. I know some people don't agree, but I couldn't continue a chase after seeing that.

It's also suspicious to me that the video was edited after everyone started making noise, removing the segment people were talking about. I saw the original on Twitter also, felt the same way about it then as I do now.

We also have to obey the law, no matter how chaotic the situation. Unless your life is in danger we've got to follow the rules of the road. Responding to a wreck, or any other avoidable situation caused by a chaser is the last thing emergency personnel should spend time on the wake of a tornado.
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
1,959
249
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
The problem is we all know not everyone is going to go through the entire online material, let alone take a class. What can we do to at least get the fundamentals out to everyone? For example, I've only gone through a small part of the material, but I know now that I'm going to make sure I have everything on this list in my chase vehicle before this season begins. You really can't even begin to do any type of on-site assistance safely without them:

- helmet
- goggles
- mask
- work gloves
- rubber gloves (worn under the work gloves)
- reflective vest
- flashlight
- hard-toed work boots
I'd say push it on social media. Perhaps we can create a link here in a more well-advertised location. If some respected chasers pushed the program, it may help generate interest on a larger scale.
 
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You know, I don't want to bash the guy. I wholeheartedly agree with Randy, we only know what we can gather from a 3 min video. I wasn't there, I don't know what was going through his head, and I know how difficult it can be to stay on a tornado in the southeast... but come on. He literally used the driveway (as it appeared) to turn around outside a home that was flattened right in front of him.

I'm positive he was aware that the storm was causing a loss of life, that tornado was a killer and it would be obvious to anyone who saw it, especially a seasoned chaser like Scott! Time = Life in those situations - victims may not live long enough for overwhelmed first responders to arrive but could possibly survive with immediate help from someone nearby, like a storm chaser. Was there a casualty in one of those homes? Would they have survived had he given assistance? Who's to say. Certainly not me, I hate to even beg such an insensitive question, but it makes my point. I have never chased a deadly storm, but personally, I feel obligated to help if I ever arrive at a scene before first responders do. I know some people don't agree, but I couldn't continue a chase after seeing that.

It's also suspicious to me that the video was edited after everyone started making noise, removing the segment people were talking about. I saw the original on Twitter also, felt the same way about it then as I do now.

We also have to obey the law, no matter how chaotic the situation. Unless your life is in danger we've got to follow the rules of the road. Responding to a wreck, or any other avoidable situation caused by a chaser is the last thing emergency personnel should spend time on the wake of a tornado.
The first thing 99.9 percent of people would do is at least call 911. I have not seen the original uncensored video but I believe others who have say there was no call.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,535
2,204
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
The puncture-resistant boots are the most expensive item on that list of gear, but they are vital. Looking for recommendations on those in terms of cost/functionality. Keeping in mind these would only be used in an emergency situation, so they don't need to be the best in terms of long-term durability. I'm finding prices ranging from $50 to $200 and up per pair.
 

chrisbray

EF4
Apr 24, 2012
471
125
11
Bourbonnais, Illinois
Not trying to start back up anything or take sides, but I thought it was worth mentioning that we don't KNOW the chaser in question did not at least call 911. It's a storm chasing video that has been edited, it's quite possible he did not include the subsequent part where he contacted them. Just food for thought
 
Dan is correct, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is essential for any chaser that thinks they would or might stop and help. I highly recommend you sign up and take the class in person for your local Fire or Emergency Mgmt department , as you will get a lot more out of the exercises than you could ever get just from reading the slides (not to mention many classes give free go kits loaded with supplies). The 10 session (typically free) course covers everything from first aid, to turning off gas, to light search and resecue, to disaster psychology, and more. In my class we even lifted collapsed walls and cars off dummies. Most importantly it teaches you skills on how not to became another victim when you try to help. The "size up" is critical before you try to help. If you chase long enough you will be first on scene to a disaster, and even when the pros arrive they will be out numbered and will appreciate trained help until the mural aid responders arrive.
I just signed up for a CERT training class because of this post! Thanks!
 
May 25, 2012
202
169
11
36
Albuquerque, NM
www.wxlog.com
The names of the 23 victims are pretty much out in the open now (James Spann posted the names on Facebook). One of the victims was an author whose Alabama writers forum page can be found here: https://www.writersforum.org/authors/listing/charlotte_miller_fiction.html. Chillingly, if you look up the address listed on her page in Google Street View and compare to Scott's video, it's the exact leveled house where he turned around...

Thankfully, I have precious little experience with fresh damage on a chase. I don't know the whole story and I'm not here to pile on. But I do think we each need to decide before our next chase what level of help we are trained for and ready to provide. Coming up on a scene like this without having forethought on the steps of action is not a position I ever want to be in.
 
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Bill Hark

EF5
Jan 13, 2004
1,264
179
11
52
Richmond Virginia
www.harkphoto.com
Here is a direct link to Dr. Jason Persoff's very good talk at the recent ChaserCon in Wichita, Kansas on this subject. For those who don't know Jason, he is a very experienced storm chaser and photographer who is also a physician and has a special interest in post-disaster medical management. He worked as a physician managing patients in those chaotic hours after the Joplin tornado. I highly recommend watching this talk especially if you are considering running into a damage zone after a tornado.

 

Ben Grizzell

Enthusiast
Mar 4, 2019
5
3
0
Nashville, TN
The names of the 23 victims are pretty much out in the open now (James Spann posted the names on Facebook). One of the victims was an author whose Alabama writers forum page can be found here: https://www.writersforum.org/authors/listing/charlotte_miller_fiction.html. Chillingly, if you look up the address listed on her page in Google Street View and compare to Scott's video, it's the exact leveled house where he turned around...

Thankfully, I have precious little experience with fresh damage on a chase. I don't know the whole story and I'm not here to pile on. But I do think we each need to decide before our next chase what level of help we are trained for and ready to provide. Coming up on a scene like this without having forethought on the steps of action is not a position I ever want to be in.
Wow... How interesting. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected. Thank you for digging around and sharing what you found, that's quite a discovery.

I completely agree with the idea that we should think through how we'd respond to a scene like that, God forbid we ever witness one. I like the way you worded that as well; we need to be aware of what level of emergency assistance we're qualified to provide, I suppose failing to do so could possibly interfere with first responders, or make matters even worse. A situation I hope we never face, nonetheless.