Small town values a big asset in bad accident

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A two-car accident at the corner of Evans Street and Chicago Boulevard on July 27 led to serious injuries to a Tecumseh man who was lift-flighted to Ann Arbor for treatment. Photo by Jim Lincoln.

Living in a small town most everyone seems to know what’s going on behind the scenes, however, sometimes even heroic deeds go unnoticed or without mention. Joseph Williamson of Tecumseh couldn’t let that happen and felt inclined to write a letter to the Tecumseh Herald as a first-hand witness to a serious incident where it made him proud to live in small town America after two cars collided on the city’s main street on Friday, July 27.

Julia Westgate was tending her street-front consignment business, “Stirr It Up,” when she was startled by a loud crash coming from just down the street that day. Instincts kicked in and she found herself dashing towards the scene as a concerned citizen instead of an emergency responder volunteer. Westgate has more than 10 years experience as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and is currently working with Sand Lake’s Fire Department.

“Nothing in my shop is as important as someone’s life,” Julia said of leaving her place of business wide open and unattended when responding to the crash. “I wasn’t even worried about my store at that point.”

Once at the scene Julia found an elderly gentleman still in one of the crashed cars and he told her he was having a hard time breathing and that his neck and back hurt. Julia did what she was trained for and supported his head with her hands until being relieved by the arriving Tecumseh fire department. During that time, Julia tried to take the man’s mind off of the situation with petty conversation and it helped calm him. She asked who the president was and they both chuckled when he asked with a grin, “Do I have to answer that?”

While waiting for help to arrive, Julia recognized a bystander and asked if they’d go take care of her Stirr It Up shop. Being the small town it is, Williamson didn’t think twice and helped her out.

When Julia was relieved at the scene she left, like most always, not knowing what would become of the person she helped. She’s ok with that, knowing she did whatever she could to help them out of a bad situation. Some people respond much differently when facing a “fight or flight” situation. Many are just unable to respond.

“I just couldn’t understand why people were just standing there doing nothing,” she said of seeing people at the scene just standing around when she arrived. Julia even had to scream out to make sure someone had called 911.

“It’s just what we do,” Julia said of EMT responders. “Either you got it or you don’t. I didn’t do anything special. I just did what I do, what I was trained for.”

Michigan has a Good Samaritan Law that protects first responders unless committing gross negligence or willful misconduct. Julia said that being protected from litigation was the last thing from her mind when responding.

“How can anyone look someone in the face when they need help and do nothing? I have to try and help them.”




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