News: Airmen provide critical care in response to two vehicle accidents
Story by Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson
By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Recently, six Airmen assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron went beyond the call of duty to help in two separate vehicle accidents that were days apart. The 82nd ERQS provides personnel recovery and search and rescue support throughout the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa area of responsibility.
Anyone assigned to CJTF-HOA knows the roads outside the Camp Lemonnier gates are treacherous. The streets are unlit, narrow and riddled with crater-sized potholes—one could only wonder how many accidents go unnoticed.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lucas Adams and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Trevino were driving back to camp after a cancelled mission Aug. 15.
Adams said they were turning onto a main highway when lights on the side of the road caught their attention. On further investigation they realized there was an overturned car in the ditch and three men trapped underneath it.
The two Airmen were the first on the scene, and it was apparent the accident just occurred because one tire was still spinning, Adams said. Their first action—to call someone.
They called their leadership and let them know what was going on. Adams said at first they thought they might need extra support but within minutes the local police arrived and other people stopped to help.
While Adams was on the phone, Trevino assessed the injured.
“I got our med kits, some oxygen and blankets out of the car and started treating the injured men,” he said. “One of the Djiboutian men was in and out of consciousness, most likely due to the pain, but we didn’t want to give any of them any (medications) because we didn’t know if they had any allergies.”
Other than being trapped under the vehicle, Trevino said he couldn’t find any critical injuries.
Several minutes passed and amidst the chaos more passersby stopped to help—about 60 people were at the scene—but they still didn’t know how they would get the vehicle off the men, Adams said.
“We could have probably lifted the car with all the manpower we had but the car would have crushed someone had we done that,” Adams explained.
Two of the men were trapped near the front of the vehicle with their arms pinned and the third was trapped on the opposite end of the car from his thighs to his ankles, he said. They were in a “precarious” position, and without the proper tools, any of the three men could have been crushed had they tried to move the car too quickly.
With all the people on scene, Adams and Trevino assisted with medical aid and made sure the trapped men remained as comfortable as possible until emergency services arrived.
“Our training makes us stop and look at a situation instead of running in headstrong,” Trevino said. “It’s not about reacting but stepping back and assessing what the priorities are, and our training gets us going in the right direction.”
Four other Airmen with the squadron were returning to camp on a bumpy back road after a training mission at Lake Assal Aug. 20.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Schultz, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Scott Kimberling, Nathan Ruddell and Thomas Harrington, all aircrew flight equipment specialists, came across a vehicle accident with two injured passengers.
Kimberling said at first glance they didn’t know what to expect. The windshield of the car was busted out, and a man was lying several feet from the vehicle and not moving with the other sitting on the ground with blood on his face.
After their initial assessment, they found out one of the men kicked out the window to get out of the vehicle and the other was in an in and out of consciousness because of the pain from a separated shoulder and broken arm.
Despite the grim scene, there were only minor injuries, Kimberling said.
After contacting their unit, the team kept the two men calm and comfortable until help arrived.
“I’d say all the credit goes to the training we get (in our unit),” Harrington said. “Our guys give us great hands-on classes in first aid.”
The 82nd ERQS provides personnel recovery and search and rescue support throughout the CJTF-HOA area of responsibility.