Thank you to local first responders

Published 6:35 pm Friday, January 18, 2019

In July of 2018, the West Point Fire Department and the Troup County Fire Department were two of the many agencies that responded to a horrendous wreck near exit 6 on Interstate 85. The two fire departments were recently honored at a banquet held by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Emergency Management Services for the roles they played in the response to the accident. The local firefighters were honored in GDPH’s Region 4.

A family of six was traveling in an SUV from Atlanta to Florida for vacation, when a tire on the vehicle gave out, prompting the SUV to flip over a guardrail and drop approximately 10 feet, flipping many times in the process. Four of the passengers, who ranged in age at the time from 5 to 19, were thrown from the vehicle in the midst of the crash, and soon thereafter flown to Atlanta for medical treatment. All have since recovered from their injuries, as has the father, who suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result. The mother, tragically, was killed in the crash. 

The scene was described as looking like a “war zone” at the time by WPFD Chief Matt Smith, and shut down the interstate for several hours. 

In addition to the WPFD and TCFD, the Georgia State Patrol, West Point Police Department, Lanett Fire and EMS, Troup County American Medical Response, Troup County Sheriff’s Office and Air Methods and Air Evac all responded to the scene. 

While any loss of life in a situation such as this is devastating, the work of both fire departments recognized and the remaining agencies who worked the scene helped ensure there were not more casualties as a result.

Firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and first responders of all kinds never know when they will be called to spring into action, as they were that fateful July day and have been countless times since. The uncertainty of the day-to-day work these individuals perform requires a reflexive response when disaster strikes. There is precious little time to think, thus instinct dictates action. The work of our local agencies shows the instincts that have been trained into them are correct and potentially life-saving.

Thank you to all the agencies who responded to this particular accident, and for those who continue to help mitigate and navigate dangerous situations on a daily basis for the safety of the general public.