News: JBLM soldier recognized as hero
Story by Sgt. Austan Owen
LAKEWOOD, Wash.-- A hero’s welcome greeted a soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as he accepted several awards at Lakewood City Hall. The soldier, with a shy smile, graciously accepted the accolades for saving a woman’s life.
The audience gave a standing ovation to Pfc. Jose Noel Delgado, a health care specialist with C Company, 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, Sept. 26, as he received the Police Chief’s Citizen Commendation from the Lakewood Chief of Police, Bret Farrar, and the Public Safety Citizens Award from the Fire Chief, Ken Sharp, for his heroic actions, July 24.
Delgado was on his way to pick up a pizza with his girlfriend, after getting off-duty, when he noticed an accident at a gas station in Lakewood, Wash. A truck had driven over a median and crashed into a gas station knocking over one of the pumps and struck a woman filling her vehicle with gas. The accident almost completely severed the woman’s foot and threatened to take her life as she was lying in a pool of gasoline.
The chain of events that happened next would make all the difference in the world to Mary Healey as she lay on the ground bleeding to death. Delgado, from Lancaster, Pa., stopped and rendered aid to the injured woman.
“He took charge of the accident scene right there, doing what he needed to do to save my foot and my life,” Healey said, “He’s my hero; that’s all I can say; He’s my hero.”
Ignoring the possibility of the flowing gas bursting into flames Delgado sprang into action saving a stranger’s life.
“There was gas all over her and the ground, so I picked her up and ran with her toward the store part of the gas station,” Delgado said.
“I’m going to help anytime I see something like that; I’m going to stop and see if I can lend a hand,” Delgado said, “I’m never going to run away from a situation like that.”
Delgado, a combat medic, said his training immediately kicked in. He applied pressure to her femoral artery until he could secure a belt, which he used as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. He directed other onlookers to acquire various supplies like duct tape and a shirt to use in the immediate life saving efforts of Healey while he worked on her.
“My training allowed me to feel calm and remain calm in the situation,” Delgado said.
“When I saw she was hurt I thought; I know what I am doing here, I know my job, I know how this works and I know how to help her,” Delgado said.
“He did whatever he could to make sure she didn’t die on him,” said Jacqueline Balderrama, Delgado’s girlfriend and witness at the scene, “He did a really, really good job.”
“When I was working on her I was just thinking of my grandma,” Delgado said, “Imagine it’s your grandma, you do whatever you have to do to help her.”
First responders arrived at the scene a little while later and took Healey to Harborview Medical Center; doctors were able to successfully reattach her foot.
As Healey was being transported to the hospital, Delgado had one more good deed to accomplish that day.
Farrar said, Delgado identified the driver of the truck who had caused the wreck and fled the scene after the accident. The police apprehended the driver a short distance away.
Delgado said he didn’t feel like a hero as he accepted the praise and commendation heaped upon him, but to many in the community of Lakewood, and especially to Healey and her family, he is exactly that.
“Had it not been for Pfc. Jose Delgado I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Healey said.