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Medical training kicked in for a group of U.S. Marines and sailors who chanced upon a fatal traffic accident in the Philippines, Oct. 7, 2022.

Medical training kicked in for a group of U.S. Marines and sailors who chanced upon a fatal traffic accident in the Philippines, Oct. 7, 2022. (Christopher Lape/U.S. Marine Corps)

Medical training kicked in for a group of American Marines and sailors who recently chanced upon a fatal traffic accident near a former U.S. naval base in the Philippines.

The troops were in the islands for the 12-day Kamandag drills involving 1,900 U.S. Marines, as well as Filipino, South Korean and Japanese forces, that wrapped up Friday.

The five Marines and sailors came across the accident while riding in a van back to their hotel in Zambales province on the Philippines’ main island of Luzon after a day of medical training with local and Japanese forces Oct. 7.

“What is all this training for if I’m not going to get out of the van and maybe help save a life?” Navy Lt. Katelyn Morton said of her thoughts at the crash site. “Whether it’s U.S. service members or local nationals I think it’s our job to help.”

Two other sailors, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Gausden and Seaman Jason Toro, and two Marines, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Angelo Alvarez and Staff Sgt. Rochae Petgrave, helped aid the crash victims, according to a report released by the 3rd Marine Division on Wednesday.

The troops saw police but no local medical personnel tending to victims in the road near Subic Bay, she told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday.

Subic and nearby Clark Air Base were home to America’s largest overseas military community before the facilities were vacated by U.S. forces following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

The crash involved a moped and a jeepney, said Morton, 27, of Camden County, Ga. A jeepney is a type of bus modeled on jeeps left behind by U.S. forces at the end of World War II.

Three victims were at the site — a male teenager with the least severe injuries, an unresponsive man who was later pronounced dead and another man with a broken femur, Morton said.

Morton, a nurse with the 3rd Medical Battalion at Camp Foster, Okinawa, said she’s dealt with trauma patients in hospitals but never responded to a crash site before going to the Philippines.

“It’s the first time I have come upon a scene like that and had to do mass casualty triage,” she said.

Morton assigned other service members to tend to two victims and focused her efforts on the man with the broken femur, putting pressure on his wound to slow bleeding until an ambulance arrived.

The two surviving patients were taken to a hospital; one remains in critical condition, she said.

“I’m glad we were there to help,” she said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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