JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. —
they approached the car, they could hear the engine accelerate and the
screeching tires on the guardrail. With caution, they urgently made their way
through the smoke that had begun to envelope the area.
the asphyxiating smell of burning rubber, they cried out to the driver, but he didn’t
first thought was ‘did this guy faint?’” Castro said. “We needed to wake him
up, but then I heard McIntyre Ray scream from the other side of the car that
all the doors were locked.”
Oct. 12, 2018, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zacharie Castro, 633rd Air Base Wing
Command Post emergency action controller, was in the process of a permanent
change of station and had just arrived with his family, three dogs and lots of
luggage at Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia. Tech. Sgt. Brian McIntyre
Ray, 633rd ABW Command Post NCO in charge of command and control operations,
left work at Joint Base Langley-Eustis to pick them up.
about 10 p.m., I’m right behind a [Camaro] and Castro is in the car behind me,
when suddenly a Mini Cooper side swipes the Camaro,” McIntyre Ray said. “The
Mini Cooper swerved out and back in front of the Camaro, slamming and getting
caught on the guardrail set up for the lanes under construction.”
their way back to JBLE, after many delays, these two NCOs were confronted by
this major vehicle accident and a decision—what to do?
Ray exited his vehicle and made sure the people in the first car were okay. Then,
Castro accompanied McIntyre Ray to the second vehicle, which hit the guard
vehicle's engine was still running and accelerating.
the partially lowered driver's window, they tried to communicate with the
driver, but realized he was unresponsive, with his foot on the accelerator.
the doors were locked!
Ray directed the occupants of the first vehicle to call 911 and procured a
flashlight from among the slowly growing group of spectators to gain entry to
tried getting a flashlight and was able to get one from a vehicle that had
stopped,” McIntyre Ray said. “They had what seemed to be a strong-sturdy
flashlight, one of the metal ones, but it was not that sturdy. I was wailing on
the back window like a madman for like a minute.”
to Castro, they tried breaking the rear passenger side window, so the driver
would be safe from glass particles, but all efforts with the flashlight were to
issue with the flashlight was that the surface of the flashlight was too wide
to actually pierce the window and it eventually broke,” McIntyre Ray said. “But
luckily while I was doing that, Castro found a crowbar from another vehicle.”
one clean swing from Castro, the window broke and McIntyre Ray was finally able
to open the car door, turn off the engine and check on the driver.
opened the doors up to get the smoke out of there and were able to see that the
driver had a seizure” McIntyre Ray said. “That’s the reason why he was
unresponsive; he had a seizure so much that his shoes had come off.”
this point, McIntyre Ray noticed an off-duty police officer directing traffic
while they were getting the vehicle opened; with the flowing traffic and the
now dying fumes, a woman showed up in her scrubs and identified herself as a
doctor that had just finished her shift.
doctor proceeded to inspect the driver using the flashlight on McIntyre Ray’s
driver’s father (arrived) at the scene,” Castro said. “As soon as I smashed the
window (he) started screaming ‘what are you doing?’”
to Castro, the driver’s father was very distraught and trying to get to his
son, but in order for the doctor to do her job, Castro had to step in, pull him
aside and calm him down.
trade we’re emergency management, that’s what we do at every base regardless if
you are here or down range in a deployed location.” Castro said. “From our end
we gather information, are people okay, is medical there, is the Fire
Department there, and are there any hazards there and things like that. So it
was almost surreal being in front of it on the other end.”
minutes later, first responders arrived and after providing statements they
the time, we did exactly what we needed to do, and I think that’s because of self-aid
buddy care and things we’ve experienced,” McIntyre Ray said. “I spent four
years in the contingency response unit so, doing this is not like an everyday
thing, but I do know when you do these things you just kind of figure out
what’s the next step. Luckily Sgt. Castro was with me, being proactive, finding
and handling things—we were just in step.”
to McIntyre Ray, the first responders on scene expressed that the driver was
very lucky that McIntyre Ray and Castro were there to keep the scene safe. That
allowed the doctor to examine the driver and the traffic to be directed, easing
the flow for first responders to arrive quickly.
back, Castro is thankful for all the delays at the airport, stopping for pizza
and dog food, and the traffic that slowed them down. If not for all of that,
they would not have been at the right place and at the right time for their
experience to be of help.
would be remiss to say that our time in the military has not benefited that
specific situation,” McIntyre Ray said. “Even if we didn’t get the exact
training to provide medical care, we were able to close out the noise and do
what needed to be done in a timely manner, knowing how important notifications
are and getting the response going just based on what we do every day.”
it was all said and done, McIntyre Ray and Castro hadn’t given much thought
about what they did that night, but after everything sunk in they both agree
that they are proud of what they were able to accomplish.
saw a guy that needed help and we helped,” Castro said. “I hope we made the
right decisions and that he got what he needed fast enough.”