This week, I had the pleasure of writing a story about a good deed. The construction manager of a major project here in Sisters, Oregon, rescued a family that had run off the road in the Cascades and ended up in their wrecked truck, upside down in the North Santiam River.
You can read the full story here. The key part for our purposes is this: This civilian named Jeremiah Johnson (yep), on a long commute to his job from Salem to Sisters on an icy highway across the Cascade Mountains made it his business to act when action was required.
Within a couple of turns of the highway, he came upon tracks that portended no good. A vehicle had lost control on the roadway and gone off the road.
“It was pretty obvious to me what had happened,” Johnson told The Nugget.
Johnson has seen some very bad wrecks in the year he’s been crossing the Pass in his commute, and that was on his mind as he stopped to investigate.
“I wasn’t sure what I was walking up on, honestly,” he said.
But he never hesitated to act.
“I guess it was, if I don’t stop, who’s going to?” he said.
The story ended well, with a family of four extricated from the vehicle before they went totally hypothermic. Because Johnson didn’t just hope “somebody” would take care of business — he took it upon himself to act.
This is a fundamental RIR principal. As a culture, we’ve become too accustomed to outsourcing our own security and that of our neighbors. We really need to actively inculcate a culture of action, of stepping up.
Several things about Johnson’s story struck me:
- Situational awareness. He well understood that conditions on the highway at this time of year are often icy. He was driving with that in mind — and paying attention to the tracks he saw on the roadway.
- He acknowledged his own trepidation at what he might find ahead — and he acted anyway.
- He was prepared. An avid outdoorsman, Johnson knew how to wade into the river more‐or‐less safely, and he knew that he had to get the family out of the cold water quickly. He recognized the signs of shock and hypothermia and acted decisively even when one of the victims was resistant to help.
Another thing that struck me is that Johnson’s actions were no more (and no less) than the old Boy Scout ethic in action.
Hat tip. Splendid behavior.