News: Soldiers’ quick response saves shock victim
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Rapid, shallow breathing, weak pulse, unresponsiveness, bluish skin tone, loss of consciousness; these are all signs and symptoms of shock, which can ultimately lead to organ damage and even death if gone untreated. These were the signs shown by one soldier recently on his way to work, which his fellow Paratroopers recognized and quickly treated, saving the soldier’s life.
Sgt. Bryce Coffman and three of his comrades – all are multichannel transmission systems operators-maintainers assigned to C Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team – were on their way to work Tuesday morning, May 3. Staff Sgt. Cameron Keresey was driving on Fort Bragg when he noticed that Coffman was hunched over in the passenger seat, drooling and beginning to turn blue. He yelled his name several times, but Coffman did not respond. Keresey immediately pulled the vehicle over, and Spc. Bryon Girone and Spc. Johnathan Lee, in the following vehicle, did the same.
The men pulled their friend from the vehicle and laid him on the ground. Keresey quickly began compressions while Girone gave mouth-to-mouth. Lee ran to the road and flagged down the first approaching vehicle. As the driver stopped, he yelled for him to call 911 and to help with the casualty. It wasn’t until after he’d given his orders that he realized the van belonged to the division command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Bryant Lambert.
“I saw the rank, but it didn’t matter”, Lee said. “All that mattered was getting help.”
“I thought he was dead,” Lambert said of when he saw Coffman laying on the ground, unconscious. “But they were confident and in total control of the situation.”
Paramedics were called and Lambert blocked traffic to ensure the area was safe from passing vehicles. By the time the ambulance arrived, Keresey and Girone were exhausted, but Keresey rode along to the hospital to ensure Coffman was going to be alright.
On Friday, May 6, Lambert and Maj. Gen. James Huggins, the division commander, recognized the three Paratroopers and presented them with Army Commendation Medals. They were praised for their quick reaction time and using their training to save the life of a fellow soldier.
“That soldier would have died,” Lambert said to the soldiers during the ceremony, “but you did what you always do; you got the job done.”
Coffman returned to full duty on Thursday, and was cleared to deploy to Iraq later this week in support of Operation New Dawn. Although he doesn’t remember anything that happened after losing consciousness in Keresey’s vehicle, he is very thankful for the men who saved his life.
“Thank God they were there to help me,” Coffman said. “Most people would have thought I’d just gone to sleep, but Staff Sgt. Keresey was able to remove me from the vehicle, assess me, and get me treated.”
The Paratroopers were thankful for the recognition of their efforts, but they received much more satisfaction knowing that Coffman was in good health.
“The award is far less important than saving someone’s life,” Keresey said at the ceremony. “This is just the icing on the cake.”