No day off: First responder the first to stop
Going home from work Saturday afternoon, a Brazil man witnessed something strange happen in the westbound lane of U.S. 40 near County Road 300 East in Putnam County, and stopped.
Employed as Indiana Department of Corrections executive director of construction services and serving as the Dick Johnson Township Volunteer Fire Chief Kevin Orme immediately went to help the driver of a black 2002 Dodge pickup truck sitting in the middle of the road. The truck had crossed over the road, went through the median of the highway and then came back into the westbound lane before stopping.
“You have an obligation as a public safety officer to stop and render aid,” said Orme, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 30 years and a fire chief for 20.
When Orme approached the truck, he said the driver was in obvious distress; unresponsive and the doors of the truck were locked with the engine still running. The driver — who appeared to be seizing and choking — had his foot on the brake, but the gear was still in drive.
Knowing once the man stopped seizing he would remove his foot from the brake, Orme immediately called 911 for backup assistance.
Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Trooper Yan Dravigne — who was patrolling nearby — just happened to be preparing to go home as well.
“I was on the phone to dispatch when Trooper Dravigne pulled up,” said Orme, who flagged him down.
As the two men approached the truck it accelerated and drove off the north side of US 40 into a residential yard and mailbox.
Orme and Dravigne followed the vehicle on foot for the few feet and again noticed the driver was still unresponsive.
That is when Dravigne utilized his collapsible baton to break out the passenger window of the truck to unlock the doors and enter the cab area. Dravigne cleared the victim’s airway of a large amount of chewing tobacco, and then he and Orme maintained medical first aid until the arrival of Putnam County EMS paramedics and Cloverdale Fire/Rescue units.
The victim has been identified by ISP as Steven Hornback, 43, of Lafayette, who was transported to Putnam County Hospital for treatment.
“It was a very quick response by the emergency personnel,” said Orme, who had been called into work on his day off . “I sure hope the driver is doing well.”
It was a bad situation, said Orme, who admitted it was made worse by some motorists who wouldn’t stop for the emergency units blocking the roads — including Orme’s — with lights flashing as a safety precaution during the incident.
“The traffic just wouldn’t stop, they ignored officers and were driving off road on the grass and snow to get around the area,” Orme said, adding he has the utmost respect for law enforcement officers who work accident/emergency scenes and deal with these types of traffic issues. “It was obvious that this driver needed help. Someone had to stop. A lot of people drove right by. Public safety officers have a duty to stop and help. But, I believe we also have that obligation as human beings too.”
ISP has no additional information on Hornback’s condition and due to HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) the Putnam County Hospital is unable to release patient information.