It Seemed So Real

I have been riding in the Tactical Safety Officer recently, and as I write this, I have just returned from a reported vehicle over an embankment on Rt. 288, near the Powhatan/Chesterfield line. The original caller did not remain on the scene; therefore, two engines, one ladder, one ambulance, one battalion chief, and I, as the TSO, searched about a ten-mile stretch of 288. The information was specific, and there were plenty of embankments for a car to have gone over in that area. However, after searching for the better part of an hour, our search came up empty.

All units had been cleared, but I decided to stay and look a bit longer. The funny thing was that the captain on Engine 4 had the same thought that I did. I know this because as I was searching the embankments on the backside of the new cinemas, Engine 4 showed up there. too. We both agreed that the information seemed so credible, yet nothing was found. There was even a point where the captain had considered using Air 1, a multi-jurisdictional police aircraft, but it was tied up on another mission.

I left the area, wondering if at the bottom of some deep and inconspicuous ravine that a person was down there, unable to signal for help. The only other thing that could have helped would have been for the caller(s) to return to the scene. Even with detailed information, it can still be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Well, Engine and Medic 3 have just been dispatched to another accident, so I best go for now. Remember, you are a vital link in getting us to the right place, as quickly as possible. If you can remain on scene, that is the best answer. If you cannot, we need the following:


  • Road that you are on
  • Direction of travel
  • Mile marker or exit name
  • Description of vehicle
  • Overturned or upright
  • Is everyone out of the vehicle? If not, are they trapped inside?


These are enough for a good start to get us there. Thanks for your help!


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