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317th MXG Airmen rescue veteran from crash

317th MXG Airmen rescue veteran from crash

From left to right, Master Sgt. Jason Garza, 317th Maintenance Group plans, scheduling and documentation section chief; Col. William Maxwell, 317th MXG commander; Staff Sgt. John Ward, 317th MXG PS&D NCO in charge; and Senior Airman Deven Johanningsmeier, PS&D section scheduler, gather in front of the 317th Airlift Wing headquarters building at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, June 8, 2018. With the teamwork from these Airmen, they helped to save a 70-year-old veteran after he crashed his car into a creek bed outside of the Blue Sky restaurant in Abilene, Texas, May 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

After four Airmen assigned to the 317th Maintenance Group sat down to eat lunch at the Blue Sky in Abilene, Texas, May 18, something outside caught the attention of people inside the restaurant.

As crowds gathered at the windows, the Airmen noticed a vehicle had crashed into the creek bed of Catclaw Creek. They wasted no time and raced to their cars to get emergency response medical equipment to help the victim however they could.

The Airmen later found out that the driver was a 70-year-old veteran.

“There wasn’t a lot of thinking behind it when I stood up to follow and help with the driver,” said Senior Airman Deven Johanningsmeier, 317th MXG plans, scheduling and documentation section scheduler. “I followed my leadership’s directions once we pulled him out since they had more experience than I do.”

Working as a team, the Airmen quickly responded to the scene and assessed the driver.

Col William Maxwell, commander; Staff Sgt. John Ward, PS&D NCO in charge; Master Sgt. Jason Garza, PS&D section chief; and Airman Johanningsmeier wasted no time. Sergeant Garza and Airman Johanningsmeier kept the driver stabilized in case of a neck injury, while Colonel Maxwell and Sergeant Ward assessed the veteran for injuries.

“We accomplished an initial assessment of his condition, including his responsiveness, airway, breathing, heart rate and circulation and any other injuries,” said Colonel Maxwell.

As the Airmen waited for first responders to arrive, Sergeant Ward and Colonel Maxwell maintained constant evaluation of the driver’s vitals while bandaging other injuries.

Other bystanders helped the team by calling emergency responders and holding up a blanket to shade the victim from the sun to prevent the onset of shock or overheating.

“Thoughts that were running through my mind at the time was that I hoped he wasn’t severely injured,” said Sergeant Ward. “We had limited medical supplies, so we all executed what we could until he could get definite care from the responders.”

With sweat on their bodies from the heat, the team of Airmen stayed by the driver’s side until paramedics arrived, then assisted the paramedics with getting the man into the ambulance to transport him to a medical facility.

“I was impressed by the immediate reaction of Sergeant Ward, Airman Johanningsmeier and Sergeant Garza. From the moment they recognized an accident had occurred, they all sprang into action without knowing what was needed at first and then remained calm and deliberate in their assessment and care of the victim until we formally transferred him into paramedic care for movement to a medical facility,” said Colonel Maxwell. “I was also impressed by the assistance provided by all of those around; even those without medical response training could help in some way, and all of that added up to ensure for this man's safety.”