Confronted with serious leg injury, soldiers acted quickly and calmly
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — When Army Pfc. Wendy Terry was at work in a motor pool parking lot on a sunny morning last week, she noticed the soldier next to her suddenly hopping up and down on one leg.
The next moment he was on the ground moaning.
That’s when Terry and several buddies sprang into action.
Spc. William Trotter, 22, a Patriot tactical control assistant, snatched first aid kits off a nearby truck, dashed over, and began rummaging through the contents for the bandages, scissors, tape, and other items they’d need.
Pfc. Jessica Paroff, 20, a communications specialist, ran off to call an ambulance.
Pvt. Michael Williams got down and started pulling up the soldier’s pant leg. At the same time, Terry was telling the injured soldier not to worry.
“It was hectic. It was like quick, quick, quick,” said Williams, 26, a petroleum fuel specialist from Kansas City, Kan. Terry, 22, is a radar operator from Augusta, Ga. All the soldiers are members of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a Patriot missile unit.
Eighth Army officials, citing privacy concerns, declined to identify the injured soldier and said the work-related injury remained under investigation.
“The wound was pretty big,” said Williams. “I seen the bone in there.”
In the ensuing, tense 10 minutes or so, the soldiers removed their buddy’s boot and sock, cleaned the wound with gauze, washed it further with fluid from an IV bag, applied a bandage and kept the leg elevated.
The Army had put Williams through its combat lifesaver course and the training kicked right in, he said.
“I remember you’re supposed to talk to casualties to prevent shock, so I was talking to him,” said Williams. “I said, ‘How many fingers do you see? … It’s gonna be all right, man. Did you see your wound?’
“He was responding back. ‘Yeah, I seen it.’… I was, ‘Are you OK? You ain’t gonna pass out on me?’ That was when he started acting all hard core.”
Hard core meant “being a ‘soldier’ — not trying to look like a pansy in front of his battle buddies,” Williams said.
Terry, who has worked in hospitals and around paramedics, ran on instinct.
“Everything I did I told him I was going to do before I did it,” said Terry. “I told him, ‘This is going to hurt a little bit. We’re going to have to apply pressure.’ He said ‘Go ahead and do it.’”
Maintaining their own composure was important, too, said Terry.
“Because if you freak out and he sees you freaking out, he’s going to be like, ‘Is this really that bad?’” she said. “By keeping your calm, you’re keeping him calm. That’s just the way you gotta do it.”
Williams and Trotter then used the fireman’s carry to move the injured soldier to a nearby guard shack to await the ambulance.
On Wednesday, 35th ADA Brigade commander Col. John G. Rossi presented Terry and Williams brigade coins for their actions. Later, their first sergeant had Terry and Williams stand in front of a Charlie Battery formation while he told how Rossi had recognized them and why.
“It’s important to soldiers to know, when it comes down to it, like who they can really trust, like on the battlefield,” said Terry. “When you’re put on the spotlight and you don’t panic, it’s always a good thing.”