SAN DIEGO - Two Miramar Marines put their medical training to work Monday while hiking in the wooded, rocky terrain of the Mount Woodson summit trail in Poway.
What started out as just regular 10-mile hike for Lance Cpls. Justis Beauregard, a combat correspondent with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Josh Rucker, a reproduction specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, turned out to be one of the most challenging days of their young lives in a quick twist of fate.
Beauregard was navigating the challenging trail wearing a flak jacket with all bulletproof plates inserted, a backpack, Kevlar helmet and his individual first-aid kit. He was training for his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan where he could possibly navigate through similar terrain with a similar load.
As he and Rucker, who was wearing similar gear, began ascending the trail, they encountered a frantic woman desperately searching for a nearby trailhead where she was supposed to meet emergency personnel. She told the Marines her friend was injured and she was supposed to get her to a trailhead for evacuation from the area. The Marines quickly sprinted up the trail to begin see if they could help.
The Marines found Christine Anderson sitting on a rock holding her foot and it became obvious to Beauregard that the Marines were in a real-world scenario. In order to help, the Marines had to use skills they had yet to need outside of standard training. He referred back to his newly acquired combat lifesaver skills he learned in his pre-deployment training and went to work.
He removed her sock, assessing the wound. It was obvious Anderson's ankle was broken. Beauregard wrapped the ankle with an ACE bandage, then splinted it with a stick he broke into two, 6-inch pieces and the triangular bandages and combat reinforcement tape from his IFAK.
"My combat lifesaver course made me confident and helped me communicate easily with the medical personnel," said Beauregard. "It's the first time I've really been able to put something I've learned in training to use to actually help someone in real life."
Rucker constructed an expedient stretcher by stretching the Marines' flak jackets between two 6-foot logs. The two Marines carefully placed Anderson onto the stretcher and carried her through a mile of terrain so austere the waiting park officials could not access it with their all-terrain vehicles.
On the way down, they met 1st Lt. Dwight J. Silva, a student at Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, and his friend, who happened to be hiking along the same trail. Silva and his friend immediately offered their assistance carrying the stretcher.
When they arrived at the rendezvous point where emergency crews and the park rangers were waiting, firefighters examined Beauregard's makeshift splint, decided it would suffice and loaded her on to the park rangers' all-terrain vehicle.
"We knew we had done something right when the firefighters told us the splint 'wasn't pretty but it did the job' and they were not going to replace it," said Beauregard.
Although the Marines were simply trying to condition their bodies for the mountains of Afghanistan, fate forced them to act in a real emergency. Anderson repeatedly referred to the Marines as "her angels," but the pair maintain they were just being Marines.
"Any Marine with this skill set would have done exactly what we did for her," said Rucker. "That's just what Marines do."