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AUAB postal Airmen deliver life-saving first aid

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leon Redfern
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

A standard routine mail run on a Sunday morning became a heroic call to aid when two Airmen witnessed a severe vehicle accident on their way to Doha from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 30, 2023.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Raul Garcia, 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron (EFSS) out-processing supervisor, and Airman 1st Class Travis Spong, 379th EFSS postal clerk, were making their way off installation with their contracted driver to perform daily postal duties. However, mail wasn’t the only thing they would be delivering that day.

Shortly after exiting the base and turning onto Salwa Highway, the team witnessed a local SUV flip over a guard rail ejecting the driver from the vehicle onto the highway. Without hesitation, the Airmen sprang into action by asking their driver to pull over so they could rush to deliver aid the injured driver.

Spong said at first glance, he and Garcia weren’t sure if the driver was still breathing.

“I remember looking out the window and seeing the driver motionless on the ground,” he said.

Upon further investigation, the Airmen noticed the driver was conscious, but suffered a life threatening leg injury. Without delay, they began administering Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), the U.S. military’s guidelines for trauma life support. Spong removed his belt and used it as a makeshift tourniquet to control the bleeding while Garcia retrieved a pen from local bystanders to annotate the time the tourniquet was placed.

“There was no hesitation at all,” Garcia said. “Neither of us froze since we had the proper training and knew the steps to conduct. There was definitely fear of being in that situation, but not panic.”

Once the Airmen controlled the bleeding, they used a small blanket to cover the wound while checking for other injuries. Garcia called 999, Qatar’s emergency services, and informed the dispatcher of the accident and checked the area for other victims or hazards.

“Thankfully, it was only a single person accident,” Garcia said. “After checking the area we continued to monitor and communicate with the driver to make sure he was in a calm and stable condition until the ambulance showed up.”

After emergency services arrived on scene, the Airmen gave a brief of the situation and relinquished control of the victim to the emergency medical technicians and went on their way to complete their duties.

“During TCCC training, it can be easy for us to assume we’ll never need these skills,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Hillary Hedberg, 379th EFSS commander. “However, as we’ve seen with Staff Sgt. Garcia and Airman 1st Class Spong, their attentiveness during TCCC truly paid off and had a direct impact on an injured person’s life. We are incredibly proud of them. Their willingness to stop and render immediate care to this person in need is an excellent example of our Air Force core value of service before self.”