Fairchild Airmen recognized for life-saving actions
By Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 28, 2019
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
With the work day coming to an end and traffic building slowly into rush hour, it is a day just like any other. As the slow moving traffic continues along the highway, a large cloud of dust makes itself visible over the horizon, bringing all vehicles to a standstill and drivers to a state of concern. The dust begins to settle and visible through the haze lays a car tangled in a fence with the driver still inside.
It was at this moment when U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Blaine Holland, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services superintendent, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Ferris, 92nd Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program technician, knew they needed to act fast.
“When I looked in the distance, I saw a cloud of dust so I pulled over to see what was happening,” said Holland. “When I walked up to the scene, I saw a car off the road and the driver in the seat with severe injuries to the abdomen. So I immediately directed another individual standing nearby to call 911.”
Ferris soon arrived to the scene and immediately began assisting Holland in providing compression to the driver’s injuries using his shirt until Spokane Tribal Police arrived to the scene and provided medical supplies to assist with the injuries.
“When I got to the vehicle and saw the result of the crash, I hoped that no one had died,” said Ferris. “While providing pressure on the wounds, I knew I couldn’t let this person bleed out and that I had to keep them awake until emergency medical technicians were on scene.”
In the heat of the moment, Holland called for additional support from the Fairchild Fire Department, Spokane Fire Department and ambulance services. The first responders arrived on-scene where they successfully pulled the victim out of the wreckage and transferred them to the hospital where emergency surgical teams were prepared and awaiting the ambulance’s arrival.
“A lot of what was going through my mind was that this person could pass out and die right now,” Holland said. “When the fire department arrived and took the driver away without any complications, it was the closest thing to a miracle I have ever seen.”
Both Holland and Ferris’ concerns for the victim would not stop there as they both found ways to reach out to the victim and their family.
“I went to the hospital the next morning and introduced myself to the driver’s family and let them know I was checking on them because I wanted to see how they were doing after the accident,” Holland said. “After about four or five days, I visited the driver and immediately they asked me, ‘Were you the one telling everyone what to do? You saved my life.’”
“Being able to meet the driver and hearing how thankful they were for us being there has been the highlight of my time in the Air Force,” Ferris added.
Airmen are required to be certified in Self Aid and Buddy Care every 18 months. The hands-on course encompasses basic life support and limb-saving techniques to help injured personnel survive in medical emergencies until professional medical help is available. Additional training may be required for Airmen whose duties regularly expose them to situations that require more in-depth care.
“In our business, we’re trained and exposed to scenarios similar to this kind of accident, so it’s easy to remain calm when those situations arise,” Holland said. “A week before the accident, I was in training and one of the scenarios involved treating a bleeding injury. It feels good knowing the training helped me act in confidence.”
Holland and Ferris both received a meritorious life-saving award from SFD for their quick actions in providing aid to the victim, allowing them to stabilize and transport the victim safely.
“I’m thankful to be part of the team that helped save the person’s life,” Holland added. “It took more than just me. With the help of the ambulance teams, fire department, law enforcement and doctors, this person is able to be reunited with their family.”
Due to Holland’s and Ferris’ ability to keep their composure during the emergency, along with the diligence of all fire and medical first responders, a life was able to be saved from what could have been a fatal accident.