IN COFFEE County’s backyard sits one of the largest and most complex flight simulation facilities in the world – the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC). Within the complex are 58 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, ballistic ranges, and space environmental chambers, among other equipment that would leave many people in Coffee County scratching their heads. The employees at AEDC, however, are ready to help anyone – no matter the circumstances. A local mother and her two children experienced this first hand after a collision at the intersection of Payne’s Church Road and AEDC Road left them trapped inside their rolled vehicle.
Normally it is emergency personnel who respond to crashes, but in this instance it was AEDC team members, Casey Culver, Greg Garner, and U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Michael Hareld, who stopped to help – proving that anyone can make a difference. Despite their incredible workplace, their jobs are commonplace – pipe-fitter, electrician, and program manager, respectively.
“I have never been witness to, or involved in an accident like the one on the 14th,” Hareld said, “The seriousness… of this event called an instinctual response from within.”
All three men were on their way home when the collision occurred in front of them, Garner narrowly missing the SUV itself as he pulled off the road. Hareld said he didn’t decide to help so much as instinctively react.
“Sometimes only moments are what defines an outcome of a medical-related emergency,” Hareld said. “An immediate response is crucial for the safety and health of the victims.”
While all of the responders had some first aid training, both Hareld and Garner are CPR certified, and Culver is a former volunteer firefighter. They demonstrated that even those without training can be of valuable assistance when an accident occurs.
Hareld held back the windshield while Garner went in to retrieve the children trapped in their carseats and passed them to Culver. Hareld said people should not hesitate to offer help if they find themselves in a similar situation.
“It did not require any special skills to assist by holding back a windshield to help get the woman and children to safety, and in doing so, further serious injury to the responders and victims was avoided,” Hareld said.
Coffee County is full of selfless and capable people, and in this situation those people may have saved several lives. Hareld said that he has seen people step out on many occasions to help those who are in danger, hurt, or struggling.
“Seeing the immediate response from witnesses makes me extremely proud to be part of the AEDC community,” Hareld said. GN