Driving home after a fun-filled and exhilarating weekend at the Pemberton music festival, three Kitimat boys stumbled into a scene they hadn’t expected, but were absolutely prepared for.
Justin Hickman, 17, Cole Carreiro, 18, and Brandt Rice, 19, were about an hour outside of Prince George when they came around a bend in the highway during a torrential downpour to find a traffic gridlock in front of them, with a two car accident further ahead.
Carreiro, who was driving, said he had to swerve out of the way to avoid colliding with the car in front of them, which got the boys’ adrenaline pumping. Then they saw that people were trying to extract a woman from one of the vehicles.
Rice and Carreiro both have their lifeguard and first aid training and Hickman has his level one first aid, so the boys immediately knew what to do and leapt into action.
“We approached the scene and they were pulling the lady and the kid and everybody out of the vehicles, so we ran up and immediately told them to stop moving them because you’re not allowed to move (people who have been in an accident,)” said Carreiro.
“So we told everybody to stop and back up, and once we said we were lifeguards and knew our first aid, everybody backed up and let us take over the scene,” he added.
Carreiro went to tend to the woman in the accident, who was the most badly injured, while Hickman and Rice went to stop traffic.
“There was still traffic going through,” said Carreiro.
“They were just flying right through,” added Hickman.
“She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt,” explained Carreiro. “She hit the dash a little bit sideways, so her leg looked a little messed up, her hip and her back and her head (were also injured.)”
Carreiro said he checked her ABC (first aid shorthand for airways, breathing, and circulation), then handed her over to Rice to finishing checking while he moved on to check another victim, a three year old boy with a facial laceration from the shattered glass.
“He was pretty badly cut up, his lip was kind of hanging there, he was pretty cut up,” said Carreiro.
“So I just basically covered up most of the blood that I could and kept him calm and started talking to him and told him to look at the cars… while Brandt was telling the other girl to calm down,” he said.
“She kept trying to get out and move,” said Rice. “But there could’ve been spinal injuries so he had to keep her from moving,” added Carreiro.
While the boys were maintaining the scene, an off-duty paramedic showed up with a full first aid kit, so they quickly updated him on all of the victims’ statuses, and let him take over the first aid.
With the scene under control under a professional, the boys got back on the road on their journey home.
“As we left the ambulance came,” said Hickman.
“We were only in tank tops and shorts this whole time and it was pouring rain so we were soaked,” said Rice.
While the detour was certainly unexpected, the boys said that because of their first aid training, they felt like they knew exactly what they could do in the situation.
“We were ready for that completely, we knew what to do,” said Carreiro.
“We’re trained for (when) the medic gets there, our job is done,” added Rice. “It was an unreal experience.”
“First time we actually got to use our lifeguarding skills,” said Carreiro.
“There’s obviously things that we could’ve done better, you can always do things better, but I think we did the absolute best we could,” he added, as the other boys nodded their heads.
The three quick thinking boys are already planning their trip back to Pemberton next year, which will hopefully be a little less exhilarating than this year’s. But only a little.