|A soldier from the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard observes a section of the Rio Grande River at sunset. He is serving at the Texas-Mexico border in support of Operation Strong Safety. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger)
Story By Maj. Randall Stillinger
WESLACO, Texas – The quick response of three Texas Army National Guard soldiers on Sept. 11, 2014, helped save the life of a local Texan.
The soldiers, who were manning an observation post as part of Operation Strong Safety, administered emergency first aid to an injured man after he accidentally cut himself while clearing brush along the river.
At one point during their shift, a pickup truck came speeding toward the soldiers’ observation post.
“At first we thought they might be runners,” one soldier remarked.
The driver then jumped out of the vehicle and started yelling, “He’s cut! He’s cut!”
The soldiers, who asked not to be identified for the security of themselves and their families, thought this might be a training scenario.
“I thought someone was testing us,” said one of the soldiers, “but then the driver opened the passenger door and we saw the blood. We knew it was real.”
The shift leader for the observation post immediately jumped into action, grabbing a tourniquet from his first aid kit. He placed the tourniquet just below the arm pit, but it didn’t completely stop the bleeding. A second tourniquet was required lower down on the arm to completely stop the bleeding.
The driver was also showing the initial signs of trauma shock, which prompted assistance from a second soldier.
As this was happening, a radio call went to the Texas Department of Public Safety for medical assistance. A medic from the Texas Army National Guard also arrived on
scene to provide additional help.
While the others were providing care, one of the original three soldiers noticed a Mission Police Department vehicle nearby and ran to flag him down. An ambulance arrived not too long after that and the man was transferred to the nearest emergency room.
Although none of the three soldiers were Combat Medics, each of them had received specialized training as Combat Life Savers and had trained specifically for similar scenarios. The three soldiers included an infantryman, a heavy vehicle repairer and a heavy vehicle operator.
The shift leader, who had previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, said he didn’t think he would be doing something like this for a U.S. citizen.
“I’m just glad we were there,” he said. “If not, he probably would have bled out due to the amount of blood he had lost.”
The shift supervisor said that he was proud of these soldiers “because they didn’t panic.”
“They took care of the situation without senior leadership being there,” he said. “It feels good to know that I have soldiers like this on point.”
When asked if he considered himself a hero, one soldier said, “I was just doing my job, sir.”
The injured man is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery.