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NEWS | March 26, 2013

Selfless service: Airmen assist in car accident

By Staff Sgt. Katie Gar Ward 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note - Due to job sensitivities, the Airmen in this article are only identified by rank and first name.

The roads were still slick from a morning rain shower. After coming back from the mall, two Airmen were excited for their evening plans - dinner in the city to celebrate a friend's birthday. As they took their exit off the interstate, nothing could have prepared them for what they were about to witness.

The car in front of them lost control and flipped in the air, landing on the other side of the guardrail and into a ravine.

For Senior Airmen Rahjanaye and Katelynn, the next few minutes would be critical. Ever since meeting at Basic Military Training almost three years ago, Rahjanaye and Katelynn had been each other's wingmen, and this moment on Feb. 23 was the ultimate test of their life-saving abilities.

"We both still couldn't believe we'd ever see something like that in person," said Rahjanaye, 497th Operations Support Squadron analyst. "You always see it on TV, but you don't think you'll ever witness something like that. You don't ever think you're prepared for it."

Before the scope of the situation could fully sink in, the two Airmen immediately reacted. Rahjanaye pulled her car onto the shoulder and called 911 while Katelynn, an analyst with the 192nd Intelligence Squadron, rushed to the vehicle.

"I had no idea what we were going to get into," said Katelynn. "It was just adrenaline at that point."

Luckily, a patch of trees had stopped the car from plunging further into the ravine, yet it was unclear the severity of the accident. For the two analysts, their life-saving training immediately kicked in.

"Running over, we were both talking about what to do - sit him down, elevate his knees. We had Self-Aid and Buddy Care running through our heads," said Rahjanaye. "I was looking at what Katelynn was wearing, thinking what we could use as a tourniquet or wrapping. All those things ran through my mind. I just knew it was going to be terrible."

Because the pair practiced SABC skills numerous times at BMT together, going through the motions was instinctual, said Katelynn.

"She was my wingman then, so it just felt natural because we've done this so many times together as practice," said Katelynn. "We both knew it was for real this time, and we would have to rely on each other."

Their panic turned to fear as they climbed down the embankment, their hearts sinking as they saw the crushed vehicle had landed on its driver-side door. They observed a young man emerging from the passenger door - it was the driver.

Although he was coherent and uninjured, he was exhibiting signs of shock. Rahjanaye and Katelynn said their main priority was to stay engaged with him to take his mind off of what had just happened. They stayed with the young man until first-responders arrived on scene, not thinking for one moment about the delay this might cause to their evening plans.

"He was so appreciative, but to us it was no big deal," Rahjanaye said. "I always wondered what I would do in a situation like that, but it was just natural."

Both Rahjanaye and Katelynn expressed a new-found appreciation for their military background resulting from this experience.

"If I wasn't in the military, I don't think I would have known what to do had he required medical attention," said Katelynn. "It reminded me to be on your toes because you never know when something might happen. There is reason behind all the training we do."

While neither Airman has been deployed, nor in a situation where life-saving methods were required, they both agree that this incident solidified the importance of their military training.

"It's definitely beneficial to push through training and take what you can," said Katelynn. "In the BMT situation, you're learning so much, you don't realize it's being engrained in you. It's actually still there, even though you don't think about or practice it every day."

"These things really can happen, and you don't have to be deployed to be put in these types of situations," said Rahjanaye. "[Having the training] definitely makes me a lot more grateful and gives me peace of mind that I'll be prepared [in another situation]."

By using instinctual training both Airmen had thought would long be forgotten, Rahjanaye and Katelynn were able to act quickly in an emergency situation, giving critical aid to a person in need. As seen by their honorable actions, Rahjanaye and Katelynn set the example of what it means to truly be selfless Airmen.