Five members of Wiltshire Army Cadet Force – two adult volunteers and three cadets – have been awarded ACF Meritorious First Aid Certificates for their cool headedness and bravery in responding to a fatal road accident in March this year.
They were returning with other members of A Company from a training weekend in Tilshead on Salisbury Plain when a car overtook their coach and collided head-on with oncoming cars. One driver died at the scene.
The coach had also been clipped by the overtaking vehicle but the driver brought it safely to a halt. Staff Instructor Martin Charity, who in his day job is a paramedic, and Lieutenant Andy Emery quickly checked on the cadets before turning their attention to the casualties among the other vehicles.
Despite the extreme danger posed by the crash scene, three senior cadets followed the pair off the coach, using their first aid training to help the injured. They were Cadet Colour Serjeant Thomas Hearn, Cadet Corporal Nathan Berry and Cadet Sergeant Major Daniel Smith.
Thomas, wearing latex gloves covered in blood, gave a rundown on the situation as he cleaned cuts on the face and ear of a car passenger.
Assisting him was Nathan who talked to other casualties to keep them calm while Daniel walked a clearly shaken woman to a safe place on the verge. He comforted her and kept her warm with a foil blanket.
Even when the emergency services arrived the cadets were allowed to continue administering first aid and replacing bandages. This allowed the ambulance service to treat the more serious casualties.
Martin said: “Everybody reacted brilliantly. The cadets did what was needed. They are only 16 to 17-year-olds and for them to come off the coach while other people were sat in their cars and to do what they did was fantastic.
“We had a debrief about two weeks later, with an award to our coach driver who did a great job in keeping the coach on the road. It could have been a lot, lot worse. Yes, the emergency services were surprised that things were so much under control when they got there.”
The Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton StJ, presented all five with Meritorious First Aid Certificates during a ceremony at Cumberwell Park, near Bradford-on-Avon.
The Certificate recognises a higher standard of action that utilises first aid training, appreciation of or removal from danger; calling for help; taking charge; managing an incident and reassuring casualties, relatives and onlookers.