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Blog: Thank You to Two NHTSA Heroes


Location: Washington, DC

The morning of September 16, 2013, brought tragedy to those working at the Washington Navy Yard and their families. As members of the Navy Yard community, we at DOT share the sad memory of this senseless event, but sometimes in the darkest moments we can find heroes to provide spots of light.

The Navy Yard was filled with heroes that morning, men and women who risked their lives to help their co-workers evacuate the building to safety. I'm proud to say that DOT had a couple of heroes of our own, Noah Smith and Laurie Flaherty of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And last week, the American Ambulance Association honored them with awards for valor.

Both Noah and Laurie, who work with the Emergency Medical Services community for NHTSA, have medical training--Noah as an EMT and Laurie as a trauma nurse. During the shooting, they risked their lives to put their training to work and try to save a life.

Vishnu Pandit had been shot at his desk at the Navy Yard. His colleague Bertillia Lavern had already risked her life to get him out of the building when Noah and Laurie saw him lying unconscious on the sidewalk near DOT Headquarters. Without regard for their own safety, they rushed over to Pandit and began working to stop his bleeding and administer CPR.

As Noah said, "We had the training; it's our job. It's an honor to be able to help as much as we could."

Although Pandit later died, we at DOT are proud of Noah and Laurie's efforts that day.

We cannot thank Noah and Laurie enough, and we also thank the emergency medical crews and Metropolitan Police teams who performed so heroically that morning. On a very dark day, they showed us that we still live in the kind of world where people step up to help each other. That's something to appreciate.

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