Verging off Interstate 270 onto State Route 161 in northeast Columbus, Line Crew Supervisor Brad Lobmiller came to a sudden (but safe) stop on the exit ramp.
It was 6:30 a.m., dark and icy. In front of him was a young man, maybe 18 years old, who minutes earlier had skidded on some black ice, banged into the guardrails on both sides of the one-lane exit ramp, and destroyed the front end of his car.
Lobmiller was an infantryman in the U.S. Army for eight years and his extensive medical training kicked in. He checked the man for signs of a concussion or broken bones but, aside from some bruised ribs, he appeared OK.
“He was definitely scared and freezing. It was very cold and he was in shock. You could tell he had been through something traumatic,” Lobmiller said. “He was not making good choices. It didn’t seem like he could concentrate.”
Lobmiller retrieved a jacket and hand warmers from his vehicle and called 911 for help. Right away he recognized an even bigger danger: oncoming traffic.
Cars were whizzing by the accident scene at more than 50 miles per hour and the totaled car was partially sticking out into the driving lane. Lobmiller recognized the chance for yet another serious injury and immediately took action.
Lobmiller backed his truck away from the car and turned on his flashers and strobe lights. To further alert oncoming drivers, he shined the vehicle’s spotlight into the roadway – an effective method for getting other drivers to slow down around both the accident and the nearby black ice.
The story is a safety success, not only from Lobmiller’s initial use of defensive driving skills but for applying traffic control tools to keep people out of harm’s way.
“Vehicle positioning is something I’ve learned during my time at AEP,” he said. “When you’re on the side of the road you always want to create that buffer zone that keeps you safe when you’re on the ground working. It was no different from a jobsite.”
Police, firemen and the man’s sister arrived at the scene 20-25 minutes later. They all went home safe.