WASILLA, Alaska — Hall of Fame National Football League coach Jimmy Johnson once said, “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation.” For Sgt. 1st Class Scott P. Samson, an Army recruiter with the Wasilla Recruiting Station, this quote rang true on two occasions in 2020 when he helped save lives.
Samson, who has been with the Alaska Army Recruiting Company since 2015, enlisted in 2010 and trained as an Army combat medic. Combat medics are military health professionals who provide emergency medical services, like emergency medical technicians or ambulance technicians in the civilian workforce. They receive CPR training as part of their basic life support certification and, like all Soldiers, certifications must stay current to remain in their career field.
Combat medics or EMTs are the first responders to military or civilian medical emergencies.
“Medical emergencies will never go away,” Samson said. “Having Soldiers and civilians trained to handle them, wherever they occur, is imperative for effective medical treatment on the ground. Effective medical treatment at each level of care increases survival exponentially.”
Echoing this sentiment, Wasilla Police Department Lt. Ruth Josten said, “Any type or degree of emergency medical experience a person has, would be valuable and beneficial for the person receiving medical attention.”
Samson used his combat medic training over Father’s Day weekend when a vehicular accident occurred along the Seward Highway. “I joined eight to 10 other individuals who jumped into action to help,” Samson recalled. “When I got to the vehicle, a 6-year-old girl who had been pulled from the vehicle was unresponsive. I then performed chest compressions on her.”
Crediting his height (5 feet 6 inches) and size, Samson reached into the front of the vehicle to check on the driver and passenger. On observing that the passenger was partially coherent but trapped, he cut her seat belt and pulled her free, after which EMTs took over.
On Oct. 8, Samson and fellow recruiters observed a man remove a woman from his car and lay her on the grass near their station. The combat medic said he noticed the woman seemed unresponsive, and as he approached the scene, someone had called 911. He performed chest compressions on her until EMTs arrived. Crediting his medical and Army training for programming him to jump in and help where needed, Samson said, “It’s not really something you think about doing. I did what I would hope someone would do for one of my family members.”
1st Sgt. Sheldon J. Hansen, Samson’s first sergeant with the Alaska Army Recruiting Company, emphasized Samson's varied combat medic training for being able to help in the community.
“Sgt. 1st Class Samson is a very seasoned combat medic,” Hansen said. “His extensive medical training from the Army allowed him to render aid on two occasions during his time as a recruiter in Alaska. His ability to handle very stressful situations and act with precision is a true testament of his military training. He has consistently shown how military medical training is very crucial in his normal day-to-day activities, and has directly impacted the community he lives in.”
While no one can predict the outcome of any emergency where human lives hang in the balance, Josten, a police officer for 27 years, said, “It is beneficial to have someone with emergency medical experience anytime someone goes down. A person with medical experience has the potential to change the outcome.”
Samson, a native of Mason, Mich., said his Army training has led to further opportunities for personal and professional growth. “Both the medical field and my Army experience have been challenging and satisfying. Nothing I’ve done before has offered the variety and stability the Army has. As a medic, I know I have a skill set I can use anytime, anywhere and that was the primary reason I chose it. As a Soldier, I have a level of training and preparedness that conditions me for success anytime, anywhere. It’s a win-win.”
For anyone interested in becoming a combat medic or joining the Army, Samson suggests they explore their options, ask the hard questions and see if the Army is a good fit. He also said, “Just because it may not be the time [to join the Army], life changes and later on, it may be the perfect fit.”