JMU ROTC students, faculty assist immediately after Saturday’s explosion

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 11:34 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - First responders got to Saturday’s explosion quickly, but some ROTC students and faculty from James Madison University were nearby when it actually happened. They sprang into action to help.

Some students received some hands-on experience like never before.

LTC Graham Davidson, the professor for military science at JMU, said 22 cadets and four cadre members were participating in the Army 10-Miler event Saturday morning.

He said the event is normally held in Arlington, but because of COVID-19, the race was to be completely independently around the county.

“Our start/finish line was literally 50 meters from the building that blew up, so we weren’t one or two blocks away," Davidson said. "We were actually standing in front of the building.”

After the blast, Davidson said cadets immediately started accounting for others and identified injured cadets. Then, he says, cadre members moved toward the building to see if other cadets and anybody else was hurt.

“In fact, there were," Davidson said. "We were able to provide medical care and first aid prior to the first-responders showing up to the scene.”

Davidson said he was proud of the response from cadets and cadres, who he says, are developing as leaders not only in the military but also in their own community.

“There’s nothing that can prepare you for the actual experience itself. You know, what prepares us to respond in these types of situations is training," Davidson said. "We get a lot of reps for warrior tests and battle drills, but I’d say more than anything, we’re American soldiers and we don’t leave fallen comrades on the battlefield. That what we’re trained. That’s our warrior ethos.”

Davidson said some cadets had minor injuries, but are doing well now.

Following the accident, he said they took advantage of the opportunity to talk about leadership lessons that the students learned and grew from.

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