123rd Airman receives award for rendering aid to accident victims in Florida

By 1st Lt. James Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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A pararescue Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron assists an injured motorist following a traffic accident in Florosa, Fla., March 3, 2015. The Airman was later recognized with a Community Service Award from the Okaloosa Country Sheriff’s Department for his actions. (Photo by Nick Tomecek, Northwest Florida Daily News)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A pararescueman from the Kentucky Air National Guard received a Community Service Award from the Okaloosa Country, Fla., Sheriff’s Department May 20 for his actions in rendering assistance to injured motorists following a multi-vehicle traffic accident there.

The pararescueman, who is assigned Kentucky’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, was traveling toward Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on Highway 98 March 3 when traffic suddenly came to a stop.

“I looked down the line of cars and I could see wheels in the air, so I popped the door open and sprinted down the lane,” he said.

The pararescueman, along with several other Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen who were riding in the same vehicle, quickly made their way to the accident scene and began rendering aid.

A pararecueman, or PJ, is the military equivalent to a civilian paramedic. PJs are also rated to parachute from aircraft into non-permissive environments, and are among the U.S. military’s most highly trained forces.

“When I got to the scene, I could see a motorcycle and I immediately shouted for the rider,” the PJ recalled. “He was fine, so I made my way to the SUV, whose passengers also said they were okay. Then I made my way to the overturned pickup, whose driver wasn’t in good shape.”

The Kentucky Airman assessed the condition of the man, whose feet were on the dashboard as he dangled upside down from his seat belt.

“I didn’t really want to move him, just in case he had a back injury, so I triaged him, checked his airway, his breathing and his pulse. But by that time, a crowd had started to gather around. I started telling them to back away, and my team took control of the rest of the scene.”

The Airman knew paramedics and law enforcement officers were already on their way, so the Air Force team continued to care for the wounded while controlling the scene, cleaning up debris and directing traffic.

When asked about their efforts, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. James Duval said the Airmen performed superbly.

“When I arrived on the scene, every vehicle with injured persons had an Airman attending to them. The vehicle that was upside down had three or four Airman attending to the entrapped driver. They were accessing his medical status, immobilizing him to prevent additional injury and comforting him to prevent shock.

They had literally climbed inside the overturned vehicle so they could accomplish these tasks.

“It is a great comfort to have professional, skilled and talented emergency medics on-scene,” Duval continued. “I was commenting to another deputy, after things had calmed down, that if I was the injured party, these are the guys I’d like to have attending to me.”

Duval recommended each of the Airmen for a Community Service Award, which were presented May 20 in Okaloosa County.

“The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department recognized these quiet professionals for not only their willingness to assist when the need arose, but the professional manner in which they rendered that assistance,” the award citation read.

Everyone who was injured that day has since recovered with no lasting injuries.

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