U.S. Soldiers Use Combat Lifesaving Skills to Aid Crash Victims in Djibouti

U.S. Soldiers raced to the aid of several injured Djiboutians following a vehicle rollover accident June 24, 2008.

Returning from a day of weapons training in a five-vehicle convey, 60 service members with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) witnessed a dump truck veer off the highway and overturn.

"Everyone reacted very quickly and there was no hesitation," said Sergeant 1st Class James Gallup. "The Soldiers took charge of the scene and provided medical aid to the injured. There were other Soldiers who helped direct traffic, preventing further accidents and still others who kept the onlookers from crowding the site." "I was very impressed with the rapid response and the teamwork from everyone involved," Gallup added.

According to witnesses, there were five people in the dirt-filled truck, three in the cab and two in the bed. One of the men in the back of the truck was thrown clear of the vehicle but the other became trapped under a mound of soil.

"Immediately, our guys were working to dig the man out," said Staff Sergeant Jason Liptak, Charlie platoon's squad leader. "I saw the truck roll and thought there was no way anyone in the back survived. But our Soldiers worked quickly and had him freed almost immediately."

Three army medics immediately went to work helping the most critically injured victims, while several other soldiers put their combat lifesaving training skills to use as they attended to the others.

After rendering first aid, the soldiers rushed the most severally injured man to a nearby French Foreign Legion Post where he was then transported to a local hospital by ambulance.

"We're in an area with no 9-1-1 or emergency call system," said Sergeant Richard Hardy. "With no medevacs and no means of contacting help, we knew we had to be the ones to get him some assistance."

The remaining crash victims suffered injuries ranging from minor cuts to bruises and abrasions.

"Today, months and months of training and rehearsals paid off in a huge way. You can train for any type of emergency situation you want, but the true measure of a Solider is shown when Soldiers can act without hesitation or prompting and do their jobs," said Sergeant 1st Class Joseph Taylor. "I am very proud of my Soldiers and how they reacted to a bad situation, potentially saving a man's life."

Hardy said his lifesaving training helped him immensely during the emergency. And he stressed the need for all Soldiers to be proficient in their first aid techniques and familiar with the equipment in their first aid packs.

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