College student uses training to help injured
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Two cars collide at the intersection of Navarro and Larkspur streets, shattering glass and causing smoke to billow from the hoods.
Chaos ensues as traffic stops. Drivers are unsure where to go. People stop to stare, but few know how to react.
A nearby retail worker takes charge until the police arrive, offering the shirt off his back to help stop the bleeding. He also directs traffic.
The man is Chris Smith.
The 19-year-old college student recently assisted in the two-car crash last week near Discount Tire - but it wasn't his first.
"I was just in adrenaline mode. It was not my first cup of tea," he said.
Smith has been surrounded by emergency situations his whole life, since his mom, grandparents and aunt volunteered at the Bloomington Fire Department.
"They made Chris and my nephew junior firefighters," said Smith's mother, Holly Smith. "Sometimes we would have a wreck, and they would really be able to help us."
His mother laughed, remembering how the boys would run around the department whenever a call came in, their excitement bubbling.
Smith, who is now certified in CPR, said he learned emergency management from watching his Mom and grandparents.
"You got to jump in the fire truck with them and watch how they do stuff," Chris Smith recalled. "It was just amazing how people could work together and accomplish something with so few words spoken. They knew who went where and who does what - it was all planned. Just being able to sit there and watch them and learn it. That is one of my earliest memories."
Smith has left junior firefighting behind, only to jump into the rescue mode as an average citizen, helping with nine wrecks during the past three years.
Because of his background, he now feels compelled to stop whenever he encounters a wreck.
And he remembers vividly his worst crash.
"I happened to be passing by as they (the vehicles) hit, and he was dead on impact," said Smith, recalling the scene. "There was nothing you could do but keep his girlfriend calm. That was the scariest one I was faced with. But you have to overcome it."
Smith said he does whatever he can to help any situation, and then steps back when emergency responders arrive.
Jason Klein, Smith's boss at Discount Tire, said, "I didn't see the wreck (at Navarro and Larkspur streets), but when I started looking for Chris, I finally found him outside directing traffic around the wreck. It was incredible. He walked from the street back to the showroom to work. Ten minutes later, he was walking back out to the wreck with an armful of waters for the EMTs, the policemen."
While Smith is unsure what career he wants to pursue when he graduates, he said he wants to be in public service.
"It is nice to know that you helped someone and now they are going to be able to see their kids grow up or their grandkids grow up," he said. "It is a good feeling."