One traffic accident shows the true heart of the city we call home
Heading into work one recent morning, I came over the slight rise on Belvoir Avenue at the intersection of South Terrace and saw the immediate aftermath of what appeared to be a fairly serious accident.
A pick-up truck was in the middle of the intersection, it's entire right side crumbled and crushed. A small sedan, its front end also crumbled and crushed, lay facing the wrong way in the front yard of the corner house, wisps of smoke wafting from the open doors.
Realizing the accident had just happened, I turned on my hazard lights, crossed over the road to park along the sidewalk, and went to see if anyone was hurt.
Both the driver and the passenger of the car, still stunned from both the accident and the sudden deployment of their respective airbags, appeared at first glance to be somewhat okay, if understandably shaken.
However, it quickly became apparent that the passenger was going to need medical help. Unfortunately, the car was starting to smoke rather heavily. Not knowing if it was smoke from the airbag deployment or something else, I and another passerby helped the two ladies out of the car and gently got them to sit in the grass a safe distance from the car.
And that was when I noticed something to made me proud of the city we call home: I was far from being the only person who stopped the help. There were nearly a dozen people who had done the same thing: pulled off to the side and gone to see if anyone needed help. At least four people had called 911, and everyone was doing what they could to make sure the people in both the sedan and the truck were either okay or safely away from the damaged vehicles.
Police, firefighters, rescue and ambulance personnel quickly arrived and did what they do quite professionally. The passenger was calmly strapped to a back board (with a cervical collar to keep her neck supported) just like you see in countless medical TV shows, but also with great respect for the patient.
Everything was explained to her calmly so that she was reassured that she was in good hands and with the obvious goal of keeping her calm. It's one thing to see it on television, it's another matter to see it in person.
With the passenger safely loaded into the ambulance, I looked around to see what else was going on. Firefighters were sweeping up the piles of debris that were the detritus of the accident. Officers from both Chattanooga and East Ridge Police were writing reports, talking to witnesses, and helping to direct traffic around the accident scene. The people who had stopped to help stayed to make sure everything was okay before we all finally left to continue on our way.
And as I was continuing my way on to the office, I started thinking about all the people who had stopped. Not just the witnesses, but those like me who came upon the scene and offered their assistance without a second thought.
That's when I realized that this was the true Chattanooga. This was what made this community a place to not only call home, but to be proud. Forget about all the political scandals, the crime stories on the news, any of that. The true Chattanooga was represented, at least to me, by a group of total strangers stopping to help another group of strangers without even a second thought.
I know in some circles, it's become fashionable to focus on all the problems the city has. But for me, I like to see the not-so-hidden good of the city. And for all of our issues and problems, I am proud to be part of community that is willing to help others without hesitation. It's something for all of us to be proud of.