Good Samaritan on way to Kentucky Derby uses EMT training to help crash victims

Caleb Powell said he was in the ‘right place at the right time’
At least five medical helicopters responded, along with other emergency units.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 12:12 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After training as a paramedic nearly two decades ago, a Good Samaritan used his emergency response skills to assist the victims of a crash on a Kentucky interstate.

While driving down I-71 from Columbus, Ohio to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, Caleb Powell said he saw a semi-truck plow into a van immediately in front of him. The crash occurred Friday evening in Gallatin County, according to WXIX.

“I mean, it was just a lot of smoke, then a lot of debris flying everywhere, all over the road,” he said. “Cause nobody else stopped to help — everybody just drove by.”

Powell told WAVE 3 News he had not used his EMT and firefighter training in 19 years.

“So, I hop out, run over to the van, and there’s no driver in the seat because nobody’s wearing a seatbelt,” Powell said. “One of the children, who I would guess was around eight years old, flew in between the two front seats.”

Powell said he pulled the child out of the van; the boy had suffered a leg injury and was momentarily unconscious before he woke up and started crying. Powell said he then checked on the adults in the front of the van before his friend called 911.

“So I grabbed the phone, gave them a detailed assessment of what’s going on, that’s when they sent out a lot of people. I think from the crash time to when EMS showed up was 10 minutes,” he said.

At least five medical helicopters responded, along with other emergency units. Powell said at least one man in the crash was seriously hurt.

“That guy was unresponsive completely. I could never find a pulse on his wrist, but he had — he was breathing,” he said.

In total, up to a dozen victims were taken to the hospital.

Powell said he stayed on the scene for an hour assisting paramedics.

“Just wanted to stay with the kid just to keep him calm and talk to him... helped them put him on a stretcher, stabilize his neck,” he said.

Powell said he was in the “right place at the right time,” and even without training, he explained anyone can help in an emergency situation by calling 911.

“That’s the most important thing to me, being able to actually help,” he said.

According to WXIX, officers said people were taken to a nearby hospital, but the extent of their injuries is unclear as of Friday.

Gallatin County emergency officials told WAVE 3 News they had no further details.

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