The LookOut Letters to the Editor
Speak Out!  E-mail us at :


A Truly Memorable Day for Troop 2

Following is the report that Dr. Michael Nagata wrote about his involvement
in the accident scene on Highway 5 on Monday, May 28.

On Monday, May 28, 2001, a truly memorable day for Troop 2, as we were
returning home to Santa Monica from Lake San Antonio near Paso Robles and our
annual Troop 2 Family Camp, we came upon a horrific highway accident just
south of Bakersfield on Interstate 5.

Heading south-bound, I noticed a cloud of dust blowing to the right, towards the west, and cars ahead of us slowing down with brake lights on. Glancing over to my left, there were amazingly no cars heading north. Scanning further down the north-bound side of the highway, I saw the broken, torn and crumpled passenger van surrounded by debris for about 150 ft.on either side. About 30 ft. behind the back of the van was a familiar head of blonde hair on a man wearing a bright red shirt -- Ron Thiele, Assistant Scoutmaster -- bent over something on the ground.

Immediately, Scouts Jonathan Nagata and Trevor White, in my vehicle, cried out, "Pull over! That's Mr. Thiele!" As we pulled onto the dirt median, it was clear that amongst the debris were at least four bodies on the ground. As we jumped out of the truck to get over to help, I could hear Jonathan yell to Trevor, "Put your uniform on..."

As we ran onto the scene, Ron and Dan Stirling, Assistant Scoutmaster, were
assessing the victims. I told Jonathan and Trevor to check out the unattended victims as I ran to the van to see what or who was there. I assisted a woman out of the driver's side middle window who was sitting in the middle seat; she was dazed and moaning. She had no obvious injuries and I lifted her out of the van and onto the median away from the van.

She seemed to have abdominal pain but no other broken bones or injuries. Ron
then called me over to help with a gentleman behind the van who lay motionless. I got one of the scouts to stay with her while I ran to assess the man. His face and chest must have been dragged on the pavement; he clearly suffered facial and probably brain injuries. He was unconscious but breathing. I kept his airway clear, lying on his side, suctioning the blood out with a small syringe. Shortly, Dr. Frank Pratt and Dr. Andrea Stein ran up with Scout Devon Pratt and his sister, Julia.

There was a lone CHP officer trying to manage the scene. I believe this is one of the major contributions of our Troop participation, helping the officers, and eventually, the paramedics, with management of the victims. He went from victim to victim, assessing how stable each was and what materials we needed.

Dr. Pratt took over as organizing the scene, directing the paramedics and other CHP officers as they arrived. Dr. Stein moved from victim to victim, getting equipment and communicating the situation.

Scout Sean Thiele, arriving first on the scene with his father, ran to each victim to assess their needs and initially helped a woman out of the passenger's side middle seat who was apparently not severely injured. He then helped extricate the passenger in the front seat along with Dr. Pratt, the CHP officer and a number of others. She stopped breathing adequately at one point and required rescue breathing, first by Dr. Pratt but then by Sean.

After a few breaths, she aroused and became more active, needing to be consoled by Sean and Julia Pratt. Julia's soothing words, in Spanish, helped keep this victim calm.

Eventually, paramedics arrived and directed Jonathan, Trevor and Devon to specific duties such as getting equipment and supplies from the ambulances and taking equipment to those of us managing victims on the ground. They assisted with bandages, holding equipment, moving victims, shielding them from the hot sun, covering them with blankets and avoiding shock.

Jordan Steele, a new l.5 scout, helped direct traffic heading northbound around our
area of activity. These Troop 2 scouts were amazing in their ability to stay calm, assist where needed, take initiative to get things done and provide consoling and caring support to the victims.

The victim I was working with required oxygen which finally arrived from one of the paramedics. We put a c-collar on him and strapped him to a backboard for transport. Given that he was the most severe of the victims so far, he would have to be air-lifted by helicopter to the hospital.

Unfortunately, since his injuries involved his nose and airway, laying on his back caused blood to drain into his throat, blocking the airway. We had to roll him on his side again, on the back- board, to help him breathe.

Finally the helicopter arrived. We started an IV, Trevor holding his arm and IV bag. We tried to intubate (put a breathing tube into his windpipe) but there was too much blood. We moved him to the helicopter and, with the ambulance staff, got him locked in for the trip to the hospital. Unfortunately, we found out later that night that he died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. He had never regained consciousness and probably had massive head injuries.

We eventually got all the victims into ambulances for transport to local hospitals. We were fairly bloody and went hunting for alcohol or other material to wash off the blood from hands and arms. A fireman brought over a spray gun with a weak bleach solution to help us clean up.

By then, television crews from the local stations, paramedic supervisors and firechief arrived to interview the scouts and Dr. Pratt. We gave them our observations, names and addresses to help with their reports.

Everyone, from the initial CHP officer on the scene to the battalion chief, expressed their thanks to our scouts for all they did to help stabilize the scene from the beginning, and expressed their amazement at how well prepared our scouts were. They were truly impressed when we described to them the program we practice in Troop 2 with Bloody Monday taking place just one week previously.

Troop 2 can be proud of the heroism and initiative of it's scouts, Sean Thiele, Jonathan Nagata, Trevor White, Devon Pratt and Jordan Steele. Troop 2 can be proud of it's Assistant Scoutmasters, Ron Thiele and Dan Stirling, for their constant presence as role models for our scouts. Troop 2 can be proud of the involvement of it's parents and family members, Dr. Frank Pratt, Dr. Andrea Stein, Dr. Michael Nagata and Julia Pratt.

We can add this incident to the long list of Troop 2 accomplishments and achievements, again emphasizing over and over again that "Troop 2 Can Do" and does.

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Nagata, M.D.

Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
All Rights Reserved.