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Airmen render assistance in roadside accident

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (AETCNS) -- In the hot Arkansas sun the pavement of Highway 67/167 radiated mirage-like waves undulating in the scorching air. A white mini van sat motionless its transformed shape of crunched metal, spun around to face the traffic as a plume of dust rose from the debris.

On that day, July 11, a small crowd of bystanders stood gawking at the horrible single-car accident.

As Col. Jim Carroll, the 314th Medical Group commander; Lt. Col. John Powers, the 314th Medical Support Squadron commander, and Jim Harrington, the 314th Medical Group TRICARE Operation Administration Flight commander, drove up to the scene they assumed help was being rendered.

“We’d better stop, just to make sure,” Colonel Carroll said, even though none were health care providers.

When the three approached the van, they saw a woman and 5-year-old boy ejected from the vehicle and a 2-year-old boy with head injuries was still strapped in a car seat.

In the back of the van an 11-year-old girl was laid out across the back seat, her amputated arm dangling.

“The shock lasted about two seconds, and then we moved on with the training we’ve had,” since no one else was providing care, he said.

With that, Colonel Powers called 9-1-1 to make sure emergency service was on the way and that there would be enough ambulances to transport all victims. After quickly assessing the injuries and triaging the injured, Colonel Carroll began to provide first aid on the 2-year-old boy.

Mr. Harrington began calming the 11-year-old girl who was coming to, and beginning to realize the state of her injuries.

While performing CPR, Colonel Carroll instructed a bystander to take off his belt to use as a tourniquet for the girl’s arm.

After some confusion and the realization the man didn’t know what a tourniquet was, Mr. Harrington removed his necktie, which was applied as a tourniquet on the girl’s arm.

Colonels Carroll and Powers, and Mr. Harrington then rendered first aid to the two individuals ejected from the car until ambulances arrived.

“They (the Airmen) definitely helped out. We appreciate them stopping,” said Tonie Hale, director of operations at North Star Emergency Medical Services, who responded to the accident.

While most of the victims were transported to area hospitals for treatment, the 2-year-old boy died at the scene due to the injuries caused by the accident.

Looking back on the situation, Colonel Powers said he realized something.

“As Airmen, we have learned self-aid buddy care and leadership skills that are invaluable during an emergency. We take them for granted and don’t give them a second thought, but the average person you meet on the street typically doesn’t have those skills to pull from,” he said.

“We’re not doctors … self-aid buddy care is about working with what you have,” Colonel Carroll said. “At least we knew what to do … it’s our duty to help.”

For their efforts, Colonels Carroll and Powers received the Air Force Commendation Medal from 314th Airlift Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Kip Self, at a commander’s call today. Mr. Harrington was awarded the Armed Forces Civilian Service Medal.
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