By Ms. Suzanne Ovel (Regional Health Command Pacific)June 20, 2019
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- One minute, Dr. (Capt.) Karin Brockman and her husband Keefe were settling into their car after enjoying a sunny afternoon at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood. Then they noticed a crowd of people all pointing behind them -- at a heavy plume of smoke arising from a vehicle on fire across the lot.
"We were in the park moments before and really hadn't been there that long, so I honestly have no idea how it started. I looked behind us and there were a couple of rows of cars and then just a plume of black smoke coming from behind some cars. I just jumped out of the car and ran over there to make sure there wasn't anyone who needed help," said Brockman, who recently graduated from her pediatrics residency at Madigan Army Medical Center on June 14.
As she and her husband got closer to the burning vehicle, they saw a significantly injured man trying to get out of his car.
"By the time I got up to the car, he was taking some steps out of it. My husband called for him to drop to the ground, so by the time I got to him I was able to hold him down and I used my sweater to pat out the flames, because his hair, all of his clothes were on fire," added Brockman.
Together they rolled the man and kept patting out the flames. Despite their quick aid, the fire was so intense that he ended up with second- and third-degree burns over the majority of his body. Brockman walked him to the side of the parking lot, checked his airway, called 911 and gave a medical report as a few other bystanders with bottled water poured it on his larger burns.
Another service member who happened to be at the park helped out as well.
"Another gentleman who identified himself as a military police officer helped us, making sure we had access to (emergency medical services) when they arrived and making sure no cars parked there," said Brockman.
While she doesn't know what became of the man she and her husband helped save, Brockman does hope he is doing well. Her response to him was the first time she's needed to provide emergency care.
"Being military medical we all focus on tactical care under fire. We get trained I would say pretty well in that. (My) adrenaline was up; it was stressful but I was able to think through things," said Brockman. "A big reason of why I was able to do anything was because of my medical training, and our training of being able to think on our feet and make sure people are safe."
Brockman's quick actions that day fit how she provided care as a doctor at Madigan.
"Not only was she the first on the scene, but at risk to personal bodily harm saved that individual's life rendering immediate measures to prevent further progression of his burns. I am extremely proud of her quick thinking and selfless service," said Dr. (Col.) Matthew Studer, chief of Madigan's Department of Pediatrics. "Her actions are in line with how she has carried herself through her three years of training in our pediatric residency."