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Accident on base? Here’s what happens

First responders from the 78th Air Base Wing answer to a major accident scene near Robins’ main gate on Watson Blvd. The accident involving only one vehicle occurred in the early afternoon on July 16. The 78th Security Forces Squadron responds to all major vehicle accidents on base. The 78th Civil Engineering Group Fire Department responds to major vehicle accidents involving injuries or fluids leaking from a vehicle.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

First responders from the 78th Air Base Wing answer to a major accident scene near Robins’ main gate on Watson Blvd. The accident involving only one vehicle occurred in the early afternoon on July 16. The 78th Security Forces Squadron responds to all major vehicle accidents on base. The 78th Civil Engineering Group Fire Department responds to major vehicle accidents involving injuries or fluids leaking from a vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When an auto accident happens at Robins, whether it involves a privately owned car or just bad luck, the procedure is the same. 

Dial 9-1-1.

There is an emergency dispatch center at Robins, but sometimes calls will go to the Houston County 9-1-1 center. Those calls will be redirected back to the base dispatch.

What happens after that call depends on where and what type of mishap it is. There are three fire stations on base, two on opposite ends of the flight line and Fire House  No. 1 centrally located on Robins Parkway.

For car accidents, if there are no injuries, security forces responds and completes an accident report, said Forest Johnson, 78th Civil Engineer Group's Fire Emergency Services Division fire chief.

"The accident would be treated just as if it was off base. For legal purposes, all involved would get a copy of the accident report to file with their respective insurance agencies," he said.

Fire Station No. 1 hosts the contracted ambulance and injured personnel would be taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The ambulance and its crew of emergency medical technicians and paramedics are housed with the fire department, and are contracted through the Houston Medical Center.

"They bunk with us and work 24-hour shifts with us," said Micah Cherry, Fire Station No. 1 captain.

When a fire truck responds to an accident, the ambulance is right alongside the fire trucks to answer the call.

The firefighters will assess the situation such as if a car hit a power pole and lines are down or the air bag hasn't deployed.

Leaking fluids from the vehicle or aircraft would require the fire department to put down an absorbent to ensure whatever is leaking doesn't end up in drains and create an environmental hazard, Johnson said.

If a battery needs to be disconnected to turn off the airbag system, the fire department would also perform that task.

Once the lay of the land is established, the attention turns to the patients. Normally a crew of four will respond with Engine 9 along with the two ambulance workers.

The firefighters help to stabilize the patient including supporting spinal injuries which happen frequently in car accidents. The medical and fire personnel are with the patient until they are loaded onto a board and into the ambulance.

"The medics work hand-in-hand with us on the scene," Cherry said. "There's a lot that goes into it."