By Capt. Jonathon DaniellMarch 14, 2019
VICENZA, Italy - The imagery has played out on the small screen for years. U.S. Army recruiting commercials featuring Soldiers running toward those in need - ready and able to help.
This time, however, it wasn't a recruiting commercial, and instead of the small screen, it was the thoroughfare near the front gate of Caserma Ederle, here.
On the morning of Feb. 28, Capt. Justin Zwick and Staff Sgt. Ashlie Stahl, both assigned to Bravo Company, 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were the first on the scene of a single car accident.
They were trailing a small sedan when they saw the vehicle swerve suddenly into a culvert along the right side of the road.
"As soon as the crash happened, I yelled stop, stop, stop," said Stahl who was a passenger in Zwick's car. "Before the car came to a complete stop, I was opening the door to run to the vehicle with Capt. Zwick right behind me. I think if anybody is in that situation, you immediately want to help and make sure everybody is OK."
As Stahl approached the cab, she saw the driver lying on the passenger side of the car profusely bleeding from his head.
Zwick instinctively doffed his jacket and removed his undershirt to serve as a makeshift bandage. He proceeded to use the garment to apply pressure to the driver's lacerated head.
Through a combination of gestures and broken English, the two civil affairs team members confirmed the patient had feeling and mobility in all of his extremities, reassuring the duo he was safe to move.
Zwick attempted to pick him up and extract him from the driver side window, but struggled as he the car laid at a steep bank and he was unable to gain the leverage needed to lift him.
In that critical moment, Capt. Christopher White, USARAF chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear operations officer, arrived on scene.
"When I got to the vehicle, I saw they needed help getting the driver out of the car so we could treat his injuries until an ambulance arrived," White said. "It just goes to show, that no matter where we are from, we are all human, and possess the same natural tendencies to come together to help others in danger."
As White and Zwick removed the patient from the car, Stahl phoned the local ambulance.
"We got him out and laid him down, stabilized him, helped him with his breathing and made him feel comfortable," Zwick said. "We then continued to keep him stabilized until the paramedics arrived, at which time they took over and made sure he was all right."
As the events unfolded, a few more people stopped to help out, one grabbing a blanket for the patient to lie on, another directing traffic and one helping translate the advice the Soldiers were giving the injured, White said.
Within minutes of arriving, the paramedics loaded their patient into their vehicle and sped away.
Before the trio of Soldiers could depart, a fourth Soldier, Col. James B. Bartholomees, the 173rd Airborne Brigade commander, arrived on scene to make sure everyone was OK.
"These Soldiers' actions embody the best of our relationship with the citizens of Vicenza," Bartholomees said. "I am very proud of their readiness and courage to use the skills we train on in the U.S. Army to help one of our Italian hosts."
Zwick and Stahl are passing through Vicenza en route to Africa to teach civil military operations to the Armed Forces of Nigeria as part of an ongoing effort to enable partner capacity.
White will continue to serve on the USARAF staff and attend African Lion 2019, and exercise focused on maintaining readiness and strengthening partner networks, in the coming weeks.
Zwick, Stahl and White attributed their intrinsic need to stop due to their medical training, desire to help others and living the Army values.