A lunch break with a twist

Senior Master Sgt. John Harvey, in the Michigan Air National Guard, was recently a first responder when he witnessed a car accident when he stopped for lunch. He is currently on orders with the National Guard in response to their fight against COVID-19. (Photo by Michigan Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)
April 24, 2020

LANSING, Mich. – All one Airman wanted were some tacos. Instead, he witnessed and was first on the scene of a traffic accident.

Senior Master Sgt. John Harvey, a logistics non-commissioned officer with the Michigan National Guard Joint Task Force, was going to grab tacos on his lunch break. He got to the restaurant, parked and looked at his rear-view mirror and saw a car run a red light hitting another vehicle causing it to partially role over.

“I wanted to ensure everyone was OK and provide assistance until first responders could take over,” said Harvey.

Harvey has been activated to support logistics during the Michigan National Guard’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He procures the equipment the guard is using during this time when so many guardsmen have been called up.

“I do enjoy the fact that I’ve been asked to take part in this. It’s been a very educational experience and I’m just glad I can contribute,” said Harvey.

Harvey, like many guardsmen, was called up to help combat the pandemic in Michigan. During his lunch time he saw the accident out of his rear-view mirror. He immediately ran over to help as he was first on scene and told another bystander to call 911. After checking to see if the occupants of the rolled over vehicle were alright, he then proceeded to find a way to get them out. He took all the things that were in the back-end and piled them onto the street to make a path. Before he could proceed, an off duty firefighter, who had on his protective equipment arrived.

“I assisted getting him into the vehicle and he proceeded to take care of those inside. All in all, it was pretty routine and what most people would have done,” said Harvey.

After additional first responders arrived and took over, they ended up breaking the windshield of the vehicle to get the occupants out. Harvey then gave his statement and number to the police and after making sure that everyone was really OK, he was ready to get back to his day.

“I was ready to get some tacos, which I found out they were closed anyway. I guess I was meant to be at that intersection,” said Harvey. “It made me feel good to help, like I did my part and I was at the right place at the right time.”

During all this, the coronavirus was in the back of Harvey’s mind. He had his mask with him and once he was no longer needed, he couldn’t help but observe social distancing for himself and others.

“You don’t really break your mind away from COVID-19. Even on the scene, I’m paying attention to what other people are doing to prevent the virus transfer,” said Harvey. “I watched what they were doing to take action. I know what we (the military) are doing, but I also watched them.”

For now, Harvey, like the rest of the world, has to watch himself to make sure he is practicing social distancing. He can change the rules a little when responding to an accident, but even then, it was there because the danger of the virus has been emphasized so much during this response.

“You’re not really out of that mindset nowadays. Wherever you go, it’s in the back of your mind,” said Harvey.

Doing the right thing is what Harvey did earlier this week. He assisted with a car accident as he was first on scene, and during all this, the threat of COVID-19 was there because he deals with the repercussions of it every day while he is helping his state fight it. (Story by Michigan Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)