Jen Rynda
Brig. Gen. (P) Joseph Caravalho Jr., commanding general, Northern Regional Medical Command, presents Staff Sgt. Timothy Matz with the U.S. Army Safety Guardian Award on Oct. 10 at the Rascon Center at Kimbrough Ambulatory Center. Spc. Derek Miller waits to be presented with his U.S. Army Safety Guardian Award. Both Soldiers were recognized for helping to save the life of a Kimbrough employee in January.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Oct. 18, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Safety Guardian Award was presented Oct. 10 to Staff Sgt. Timothy Matz and Spc. Derek Miller of the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center for helping to save the life of a fellow Kimbrough employee in January.

Brig. Gen. (P) Joseph Caravalho Jr., commanding general, Northern Regional Medical Command, U.S. Army Medical Command, presented the award in a brief ceremony at Kimbrough's Rascon Center.

The U.S. Army Safety Guardian Award is given by the Office of the Director of Army Safety to an individual who, through extraordinary individual action in an emergency situation, prevents an imminent dangerous situation, minimizes or prevents damage to Army property, or prevents injury to personnel.

This is the first time the award has been presented to Kimbrough personnel, and it is the first time in three years that the award has been presented within the Northern Regional Medical Command.

"You ought to be proud of yourselves," Caravalho said. "On behalf of the surgeon general, thank you for a superb job."

Matz, the noncommissioned officer in charge of primary care, and Miller, the NCOIC of internal medicine, were recognized for helping to save Jesse John Warren Booker III on Jan. 30. Booker was a licensed practical nurse who worked on the Red and White teams.

"You guys really took to heart what you were trained to do," said Col. Danny B.N. Jaghab, commander of Kimbrough and the U.S. Army Medical Activity, Fort Meade.

Jaghab said the Soldiers "remained calm in a situation that was full of panic and full of excitement."

On the day of the incident, Matz, then the NCOIC of the Red Clinic, noticed that Booker was a little late for work. A nurse saw Booker sitting in his SUV in the Kimbrough parking lot with the windows up and thought it was a bit odd.

Soon after, Matz went out to the vehicle, waved at Booker and asked if he was OK.

"He nodded his head 'yes,' " said Matz after the ceremony. "Then I went back inside."

When another nurse went out to the parking lot, she saw that Booker was having a seizure and ran back to Kimbrough screaming for help.

Miller, who was then a health care specialist in the Red Clinic, heard the nurse's screams and got Matz. The two Soldiers ran out to the parking lot with an automated external defibrillator. Kimbrough personnel called 911.

The vehicle's doors were locked so Matz tried to open a window with his pocket knife. When that didn't work, he got a tire iron from his car, which was parked near Booker's vehicle.

Matz, who served four tours as a combat medic in Iraq, used the tire iron to safely break open the back window of the SUV.

"I climbed into the back of the vehicle and unlocked the front door," said Miller after the ceremony.

He said he gave Booker a rapid trauma assessment on the spot and checked his vital signs. Booker was breathing and had a pulse.

Emergency medical services personnel arrived shortly later and removed Booker from the vehicle. He was taken to a local hospital.

"You just do what you've been taught to do in terms of medical procedures," said Miller, who also served a tour in Iraq as a line medic.

Matz said he and Miller had "a game plan" for gaining access to the vehicle and assessing Booker's condition.

"When you're treating someone and your emotions get in the way, you can miss something," Matz said. "You set your emotions aside."

Matz and Miller both sustained lacerations on their hands from the broken window.

Although Booker, 63, returned to visit Kimbrough to thank those who had helped him, he later died on March 6 at the Washington Home Community Hospice in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Richard Rickley, head nurse of Kimbrough's Department of Primary Care, nominated the Soldiers for the award.

"I am proud of the initiative these Soldiers took that morning," Rickley said. "Staff Sergeant Matz and Specialist Miller displayed the Army values as they applied their 68W Medic training."

Matz said it was "an honor" to receive the award. "It made both of us feel pretty good," he said.

"I am grateful that someone thought it was important to recognize us," Miller said.

After the ceremony, Miller recalled how he and Booker often talked about music. Miller said Booker knew several members of the U.S. Army Field Band and that he encouraged him to join the Field Band as a guitarist.

Miller said when a combat medic is deployed and treating service members in the field, "you don't really know them."

But for him, this incident was different.

"When it's someone you consider a close friend, it hits home," Miller said.

Page last updated Thu October 18th, 2012 at 00:00