JBLM Soldiers Receive Washington State Patrol Life Saving Award
Spc. Richard Carlisi, I Corps Public Affairs
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (April 4, 2022) — Sheer timing and extensive training saved the life of a car accident victim in southern Washington, all thanks to five Soldiers from the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade.
The mission of the 5th SFAB is to advise, assist, train, enable, and accompany conventional units of partner and allied nations. Soldiers in the unit need a military occupational specialty authorized by the SFAB structure, should be fully deployable, and have good fitness – just the right people to happen upon such a catastrophic event.
“[My team and I] just wrapped up some training in Camp Rilea, Oregon, and [we were heading] back to JBLM,” said Capt. Seamus Bradley, a physician assistant officer assigned to the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade. “We ended up being redirected by our navigation app through backroads and that allowed us to happen upon the accident.”
On Sept. 16, 2021, a flatbed and pickup truck collided head-on in Grays Harbor, Washington, where a passenger was trapped inside of the vehicle with significant injuries.
“We were slowing down,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dario Dominic Gundersen, describing the day’s events. “We came around a corner and noticed a [pickup truck] that was smoking in the front with the engine gone.”
Though these events were six months prior, the memories were still fresh in the Soldiers' minds.
“When we arrived, there were people on top of a [pickup truck]…smashing windows trying to extract somebody,” said Bradley. “It was chaotic with vehicles zipping by. We were trying to ensure the accident stayed with these two vehicles so we didn’t have any more casualties.”
Bradley’s medical training immediately kicked in as he grabbed his aid bag to render medical assistance to the casualty, Montanna Driver, while his team secured the scene.
Gundersen, who was the senior enlisted advisor assigned to 6th Battalion, 5th Security
Force Assistance Brigade, positioned the team to control traffic and allow Bradley the space to administer lifesaving measures.
“The Army trains [Soldiers] in fundamentals,” said Gundersen. “I’m happy she survived. I’m glad we came around that corner. I am proud of how [our team] functioned together.”
Bradley stayed with Driver until she was evacuated by Lifeflight to a hospital, taking her mind off of her injuries while she was still trapped.
“It means the world to me knowing she is alive,” said Bradley. “I’m glad I could be that calm voice for her.”
Though not in attendance, Driver offered solemn words via pre-recorded video at the ceremony honoring the team of five:
“To the courageous men standing in front of me, I want to thank you for the huge impact you have made for saving my life,” said Driver, as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I admire you all for doing everything that day to save me.”
As her voice cracked, Driver continued, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don't think about that.”
Bradley and his four Soldiers received the Washington State Patrol Life Saving Award, during a ceremony at JBLM. During the ceremony, the commander of Washington State Patrol District 8, Capt. James Mjor, recognized the team’s humility and service for their life saving actions.