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Pacific edition, Thursday, August 30, 2007

SEOUL — When Staff Sgt. Richard Jasen peered into the wreckage of the black Hyundai Grandeur, he knew right away the South Korean driver was in big trouble.

“He was balled up in a fetal position … bleeding,” Jasen said during an interview Tuesday. “We knew it was pretty bad.”

Jasen was one of a dozen members of the 112th Signal Detachment, Special Operations Command-Korea, who were traveling in two vans en route to parachute training on Aug. 17 when they came upon the wreck. They didn’t see what happened but said they were the first to respond.

“There was glass and debris everywhere,” and smoke was coming from the vehicle, Jasen said.

Jasen, Staff Sgt. Brian Conor, Sgt. Timothy Hasko and Maj. Jeff Foundas began treating the man with a first-aid kit from their van, while Capt. James Austin called for an ambulance. The other soldiers directed traffic.

They said they knew what to do in the situation from their emergency medical, combat-lifesaver and first-responder training.

They could see blood but said they were worried about moving the man because of possible neck or spinal injuries. The man faded in and out of consciousness and began to move on his own, so the soldiers fashioned a neck brace and gently removed him from the vehicle.

They discovered serious head injuries, bones protruding from his chest and a shattered wrist.

Jasen said the soldiers irrigated the wounds and tried to communicate with the unresponsive man, whom they believed to be in his mid- to late-30s.

The soldiers said they really didn’t have the time to think about what they were doing, that instinct and training kicked in.

“I think we took the right steps,” Hasko said.

Conor said it felt good to be able to help somebody in that situation. “It’s better than reading about drunk GIs getting in fights,” he said.

After the ambulance arrived, the soldiers heard later the man was in critical condition in a hospital. A command official said award packages have been submitted for the soldiers’ actions.

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