Tales of heroism are emerging from the scene of a horrific bus crash Thursday that sent 56 passengers to various B.C. hospitals with injuries ranging from non-life threatening to critical.

In those terrifying moments after the bus hit a median, skidding across several lanes of traffic and rolling into a ditch, witnesses say something remarkable happened.

“Everybody just banded together. Everybody took orders clearly. A couple of us just sort of took charge and started doing a triage situation,” said off-duty firefighter Terry Lipfin, who happened to be in the area when the crash occurred. “We had no tools to do it with, but we did the best we could.”

Witnesses started jumping into the grisly scene, helping people to safety, determining the severity of injuries and providing comfort to those who needed it.

“There were people trying to climb out the windows. It was horrifying,” said Lipfin. “So we helped them get out of the bus, and there was no proper protocol followed, that’s for sure.”

Some of the people who were first on the scene were off-duty first responders, like Lipfin, while others put their first aid skills to work.

“I just got here a few minutes after the accident, so I just pulled over and grabbed my blanket and my phone and ran up, and there were just people laying around everywhere,” said witness Cynthia Schneider. “I went to the first people who were just sitting there in a daze, and helped them out. A lady was crying and I just laid her down and talked to her for about an hour-and-a-half.”

First responders praise crash witnesses for heroic acts

Paramedics and Mounties had nothing but praise for the many people who jumped into the fray.

“[It was] a tremendous outpouring of assistance from travelers on the highway here,” said BC Ambulance Service sopkesman Glenn Braithwate. “A lot of off-duty medical people, first aid people that came forward to lend a hand.”

RCMP spokesperson Const. Tracy Dunsmore said officers arriving on the scene couldn’t believe their eyes.

“It was pretty chaotic at the scene. The triage was pretty incredible,” Dunsmore told CTV News.

“Some of them had more than 20 years service and have never been to a scene like this, but what I keep hearing is that they were amazed by the response of BC Ambulance, emergency personnel, as well as people passing by on the highway,” she said. “They believe that that’s probably a good reason why a lot of the people were not as poorly injured as what they could’ve been.”

Dunsmore said some of those Good Samaritans may have even helped save lives. No fatalities have been reported as a result of the crash.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. Investigators do not believe speed was a factor.

For full details regarding the crash and for an update on the injured passengers, read more.