Two Missouri Air National Guard members recently saved the lives of fellow citizens in two separate incidents throughout the state - one involving a motor vehicle accident, the other preventing an apparent suicide attempt.
Missouri Air National Guard Senior Airman Joshua Boze, an emergency management specialist with the 131st Bomb Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, was one of the first to arrive on the scene of an accident that occurred along U.S. Highway 54 on May 26, playing an important part in providing care and safety to the crash victim while waiting for medical support to arrive.
Boze had just returned to Missouri after completing one week of annual training at Tyndall Air Force Base in Fla., and was on his way home when he came across a one-vehicle accident in the middle of the road.
"I was coming over the hill and all I saw was a pickup truck caught on fire sitting in the middle of the road," Boze said. "There was one other bystander who had already stopped and pulled the guy out of the truck, so together we continued to pull him into a ditch."
As others continued to stop Boze instructed one of them to move his car so that it would create a barrier around them while he continued providing care to the victim.
"He had his car placed between the burning vehicle to shield the man and those who were first on the scene," explained Army Sgt. Maj. Joyce Hart, an information systems chief at Missouri Air National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, who also happened to stop after passing the accident.
"He immediately evaluated the man's condition and began treatment. He stabilized him until the ambulance arrived," she said.
While waiting, Boze was able to provide aid using an individual first aid kit he carried in his car as part of the gear he took with him to training.
"It took about 10 minutes for the first deputy to arrive, and around 15 minutes for the Cole County ambulance and fire department to," said Boze. "I had someone else secure his head to prevent further injury as I worked on monitoring vitals, bandaging wounds and maintaining the guy's level of consciousness."
Once the ambulance arrived Boze was able to give the medics a quick run down including vitals, medications the victim had with him, and a description of what the inside of the truck looked like before going up in flames.
According to Boze, noting what the inside of a vehicle looks like after an accident is important so that doctors can check for any possible unseen injuries a victim might have sustained during a wreck.
"He provided them with an outstanding evaluation of his condition which allowed emergency personnel to immediately react," Hart said. "He continued to assist until the ambulance departed."
Boze credits his many years of fire and medical experience for his ability to react quickly. In addition to his Guard duties, he also works for Osage Beach Fire Department and Miller County Ambulance.
"I started out as a volunteer when I was 16, and have 15 years of fire service experience overall," Boze said.
Just shortly before arriving to the accident he had stopped to help another couple stranded on the side of the road. He said that if he hadn't stopped to help them, he probably would've missed the accident.
"Part of being in the fire and emergency medical service is knowing that it's your duty and responsibility to help," Boze said. "When you do it whole heartedly it becomes a part of you. It's just what I do."
Helping a stranger in need:
A citizen-Airman acting as a good samaritan near St. Joseph, May 24 stopped a woman from possibly jumping to her death in an apparent suicide attempt at the U.S. Route 36 Bridge over the Missouri River.
Missouri Air National Guard Master Sgt. Heidi Utt, with the 139th Airlift
Wing, said she was driving to work when she noticed a woman who climbed over a cement barrier and onto the bridge's outer light pole.
"I instantly pulled over and got out the car and started rationalizing and talking and engaging in conservation with her," Utt said.
Utt reached over the side of the bridge and grabbed the woman's arm and leg and "just held on for dear life."
"I was ready to help," she said. "I saw somebody in need, and that's what I did."
Alone, Utt said they talked for several minutes, and she ensured the woman that she and others cared for her and that there was help available.
Another bystander then called for help, and they got the woman back over the barrier.
"She's a true hero," said Air Force Col. Michael Pankau, wing commander. "She took it upon herself to save that woman's life."
Pankau said he also drove across the bridge on his way to work and stopped when he saw Utt and others helping.
"By that time the Police were there, and they took her to assistance," he said.
"Heidi is a role model for what we all hope we would do to prevent the suicide of a fellow Airman, a friend, a family member, or in her case, a total stranger."
Intervening in suicide is something the Air Guard addresses nationally.
Its suicide prevention program, "Wingman Project," states that fellow Airmen or "Wingmen" watch over and care for each other.
"We do an annual training ... on being a Wingman, and knowing the signs of suicide, how to interact with Airmen and everyday civilians," Utt said.
Wingman Project was recognized among the best suicide prevention programs in the Air Force in 2009. It provides resources and tools to help prevent suicides, and it trains citizen-Airmen and their families to recognize the signs and provide help.
Follow-on classroom training can certify Airmen in Ask, Care and Escort and in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, which prepare service members to stop someone from taking their own life.
Article by Army Cpl. Jacqueline Courtney and Air Force Master Sgt. Mike Smith, Missouri National Guard