Controlling traffic at points throughout flooding communities remains a common duty around the clock for North Dakota National Guard members. Soldiers and airmen help travelers know what roads are blocked and alternative routes while controlling access for residents and ensuring quick movement for civilian and military flood fighters and emergency responders.
Most days are pretty routine for the Guardsmen, who are well-experienced in the mission after having served about 70 days on flood duty this year alone. Monday proved to be a different story for Soldiers with the 191st Military Police Company staffing a traffic control point at an intersection on Highway 2.
As Spc. Jaron Johs, of Bismarck, N.D., and Pfc. Dylan Nerem, of Minot, N.D., manned the point, a three-car accident happened nearby on Highway 2. The soldiers responded quickly on foot to perform an immediate scene assessment, noting one civilian had been injured.
Johs quickly called 911 and reported the incident to Staff Sgt. Cody Johnson, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the traffic control mission. Then, Johs and Nerem directed traffic around the scene to ensure no further accidents occurred.
Within two minutes of being called, Johnson, of Bismarck, arrived on scene with Pfc. Lucas Zabka, of Max, N.D. Johs provided a situation report to Johnson to bring him up to speed on the situation, then Johnson redialed 911 to ensure authorities were aware that there was one injury and that an ambulance was en route.
Zabka assessed the hurt civilian’s injuries and ensured the person’s c-spine was immobilized to prevent any further injury. In the meantime, the other three soldiers controlled traffic, funneling it into a single lane around the accident scene.
When the emergency medical service, fire and law enforcement officials arrived, Zabka briefed the paramedics on what he found and what actions he took. The Ward County Sheriff’s Department requested the soldiers continue to maintain traffic control until the scene was cleared and the injured civilian was transported to the hospital. Then, the Minot Police Department thanked the Guardsmen and they returned to their duties.
“Spc. Johs, Pfc. Nerem and Pfc. Zabka responded and performed exactly as military police are trained and expected to do. Their quick actions and control of the scene ensured that EMS, fire and law enforcement personnel were able to carry out their duties on scene while keeping the welfare of all parties involved at the utmost priority,” Johnson said.
Guardsmen are providing 13 around-the-clock traffic control points in Minot, five each in Burlington and Sawyer and three in Velva. Guardsmen also are patrolling levees, providing quick reaction force team support, serving on security patrols and evacuation teams, procuring fresh water, monitoring pumps and working in borrow pits.
As of today, more than 1,100 Guardsmen are on flood duty in the state. About 850 are in the Minot/Ward County/McHenry County area working alongside 100 airmen from the Minot Air Force Base. In the Bismarck and Mandan areas, more than 250 Guard members continue to serve on flood duty. North Dakota National Guardsmen have served 33,615 workdays in the summer flood fight, which began May 24.