Training helps Soldier save civilian driver
July 17, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 17, 2013) -- With years of training and a quick response, a Fort Benning Soldier came to the aid of a civilian driver during a routine commute last week.
Capt. Matthew Potts, commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 192nd Infantry Brigade, said he was just fulfilling his duties as a Soldier.
"We're trained and we have a code of ethics that we live by," he said. "When the time comes to respond to a life-threatening situation to help others, the Soldier will act. It's just what we do."
Potts said he was driving home along Interstate 185 in Columbus after physical training on July 9 when he noticed a car erratically moving northbound in the median and grinding against the concrete barriers along the median.
"I saw cars scooting around it and I knew something was wrong, so I drove up to the side and I looked in and all of the airbags were deployed," Potts said. "When I looked inside I couldn't see a person sitting upright in the driver's seat and no hands on the steering wheel."
Potts said he knew the driver was in immediate danger and with a few seconds to respond, his 20 years of military police evasive driving training immediately kicked in.
"All of your senses come alive during those times as described in by the German word 'fingerspitzengefuhl' and the handling of a complex situation you go into this cognitive zone between you as a thinking entity and how you act where training takes over," he said. "(Military police) officers are highly trained to execute both defensive and offensive moves in response to isolating a vehicle threat."
Potts said he drove ahead of the car, which was accelerating approximately 10 to 15 miles per hour, and used his vehicle to stop the car.
"I made the decision to use my vehicle as a barrier, (like) combat training scenarios," Potts said. "We're trained to push a disabled vehicle out of the kill zone, but in this case it was the reverse of that. I made contact, applied a threshold braking technique and brought the vehicle to a halt."
After stopping the car, Potts was able to assist the driver, a 25-year-old male, who was unconscious. With the help of two other drivers, Columbus police and EMS personnel were contacted and arrived several minutes later to transport the driver to a local hospital.
Potts said even without professional training, all drivers should remain aware of their surroundings on the highway and confidently assist others when help is needed.
"I would recommend to everyone to be cognizant of your surroundings," he said. "If you see a situation, react to it, trust your abilities and it will go well."