Two United States Army Surgeons were first on the scene of a tragic accident on Highway B66 in western Austria, aiding a man in the fight for his life.
A farm tractor heading northbound on B66, a two-lane highway, attempted to turn left but overlooked the semi-truck that was traveling toward it in the on-coming lane and was struck head on.
The two United States Army Officers, Maj. Adrian Arnett, the Battalion Surgeon for the Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade and Maj. Andrew Galdi, the Senior Physician Assistant for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, were driving with their families near Feldbach, Austria on the morning of November 22nd when they came upon the crash.
Communicating to each other through hand held radios and quickly realizing that this event had just occurred, the two rushed to the aid of the victim.
"There was no question that we were going to get out and help." said Maj. Arnett
The Army Doctors retrieved aid bags from their cars and ran to the wreckage. Upon reaching the victim, Maj. Arnett found a pulse in the man's neck while Maj. Galdi assessed his other injuries.
Observing the oil and gasoline leaking from the tractor, Maj. Galdi made the decision to cut the cloth door from the farm tractor in order to pull the man from the wreckage. A gnarled steering wheel and cab interior held onto the large man, forcing both of these Soldiers to muster their strength in order to pull him free.
"Once we layed him on his back, we checked him again, and he's not breathing. His pulse was irregular and pretty faint," said Maj. Arnett.
Discovering the victim was no longer breathing on his own and had lost consciousness, the Docs rapidly began chest compressions, as well as administered a breathing bag. To keep the man's body oxygenated and blood flowing to his vital organs.
"We applied the basics of what you get from Bayonet First Responder or Combat Life Saver Class; how to stop Hemorrhages, how to maintain someone's airway, just being familiar with that and practice with that. I think every soldier should have those skills in their arsenal" ,said Major Arnett.
Roughly 30 minutes into their rescue, first response Austrian Emergency Services arrived.
"They have a significant amount of equipment, but not the clearance to use it, so that's where it was beneficial for us because we could use all the equipment and save the time necessary for a doctor to have to be called", said Maj. Galdi.
The Austrian Emergency Services provided them with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), an Oropharyngeal Airway (OPA), along with much needed fluids given to the patient.
Continuous chest compressions, defibrillation, and other Advanced Cardiac Life Support techniques were conducted for the next 15 minutes until the 69-year-old-man eventually passed.
"We are always saddened when a patient passes, but are comforted that we provided hope where there was none", said Maj. Galdi.
It was later determined that the injuries sustained in the accident were to the severity that he could not be saved. This did not stop the 173rd Airborne Brigade surgeons from making every effort to save him, because this is what they are trained to do. "I think a lot of people probably drove by and thought I wish I could have done something, and I hope that when people have those skills and the ability to help, they put those into effect!" said Maj. Arnett
These Soldiers epitomized Personal Courage and Selfless Service, two of the Army's Core Values, on this day.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade prides itself on training and maintaining the pinnacle of the Airborne Soldier no matter what the MOS marker on their ERB reads, from doctors to cooks and truck drivers to infantryman. This instance is a prime example of the doctors and medics in this brigade who are always ready to jump into the action with their counterparts and treat, with confidence, whatever may happen to those men and women under their care.
Maj. Galdi said, "What you carry on you, knowing the equipment, knowing how to use it, and knowing the indications when to use that equipment, and utilizing Bayonet First Responder which is our version of our CLS is going to prepare you for this."
The Brigade cultivates a mentality of toughness and bravery which is highly respected by our NATO allies and feared by our foes. Training daily to keep warfighting skills sharp so that when the time comes, Sky Soldiers are prepared for any obstacle they will face. There's not a mag pouch or drop of CLP a Sky Soldier takes for granted. These Paratroopers learn, train and maintain their arms and equipment to be constantly prepped for any occasion.