Colorado Air National Guard Airmen team up to save a life
By Maj. Kinder Blacke, 140th Wing
/ Published May 17, 2017
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For one young man, it may have been a lucky day when he got into a serious car accident just outside of Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., May 9, 2017.
Seven members of the Colorado Air National Guard 140th Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight conducting training on the east side of the base witnessed a car accident and immediately ran to assist.
“We were over the fence within 30 seconds,” U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Rich, chief of resources and EOD operator, said.
Rich and six other members – U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Dick Gibbons, the flight chief, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dustin Frey, Staff Sgt. Darrell Linkus, Staff Sgt. Brandon Ulmer, Senior Airman Tom Benedict and Senior Airman Rosen Lima, all EOD operators – jumped the BAFB perimeter fence and ran to the scene of the accident.
“Everyone just kind of knew their role,” Benedict said. “We did what we knew we could do best to contribute.”
Benedict immediately called 911 and brought his battlefield first aid kit to the scene of the accident.
EOD members receive military training in basic first aid.
Linkus, an emergency medical technician and firefighter, and Rich, a former police officer who trained as an emergency first responder, immediately went to help the more seriously injured individual.
“Witnessing the accident, I knew the person in the vehicle that was struck multiple times was in bad shape,” Rich said. “He was very pale and not breathing when we got to him.”
Rich, Linkus and Frey worked together to carefully extract the young man from the vehicle, establish an airway with a nasal pharyngeal, and provided follow-on care until the Aurora Fire Department and ambulances arrived a few minutes later.
“While still unconscious, he was making visible progress as soon as we started working on him,” Rich said.
While the three Airmen tended to the most injured individual, the others worked to direct traffic away from the scene and facilitate the arrival of emergency responders.
“It was an interesting dynamic to watch each member of the team find a way to contribute,” Benedict said. “Nobody needed to be in charge; we all just found a role and filled it.”
The EOD team members said that they are used to high stress environments.
“We get really good trauma training so when the worst happens, our response is automatic: step one; step two; step three; it’s second nature,” Rich said.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the 140th Wing EOD team., their quick response and close proximity to the scene, the patient was alive when civilian medical service personnel took over.
“The team reacted exactly as I’d expect and hoped they would,” Gibbons said. “We just hope the patient will pull through.”