Buckley members rescue man after car accident
By Staff Sgt. Aaron Cram , 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 16, 2006
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Three members of the 460th Security Forces Squadron helped rescue a man from his burning automobile June 28 after an accident at the corner of Iliff Avenue and Chambers Road.
At about 11:30 p.m., Senior Airman David Underwood, Staff Sgt. James Renfro and Tech. Sgt. Brian Noethlich witnessed a large, speeding truck colliding with a smaller truck, forcing it into another truck destroying the third truck and causing it to catch fire.
Sergeant Renfro immediately started directing traffic, while Airman Underwood and Sergeant Noethlich ran to the vehicle where they realized the man was unconscious and trapped.
"I heard the sound of the accident and knew it was bad," said Sergeant Renfro, a Combat Arms instructor.
The man in the truck was wearing his seatbelt and the truck was crushed around him making it impossible to open the doors. Sergeant Noethlich, the assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of Combat Arms, said he and Airman Underwood helped three other bystanders remove the rear window frame from the flame-engulfed truck.
"Once the frame was removed and the victim's seatbelt was cut off him, Airman Underwood led the effort and pulled the victim out of the rear window," he said. "The truck was completely engulfed in flames at this point. Despite the explosion hazard and the heat of the flames, the heroic efforts of Underwood ensured that the man only received minor burns to his left side. He saved the victim's life."
Once the victim was pulled from the truck and carried away from the danger area, Airman Underwood and Sergeant Noethlich stabilized his position. According to Sergeant Noethlich the victim had several bones sticking out of his skin and many lacerations and abrasions.
Sergeant Noethlich and Airman Underwood cared for the driver until emergency medical personnel arrived. Sergeant Renfro kept traffic controlled until duties were assumed by the Aurora police department. To Sergeants Noethlich and Renfro, their actions were all instinct even though their first thoughts were fear.
"Fear was my initial thought," Sergeant Noethlich. "Getting the man out of the vehicle was a close second. I was hoping the truck didn't explode while we were trying to save the man, then praying that he wouldn't die when we got him out. After that, it was all instinct and adrenaline. It's what we do."
Both Team Buckley members agreed their military, security forces and first responder training were key to helping the victim.
"There was no time to think," Sergeant Renfro said. "I just reacted the way I was trained to."
The 460th SFS Operations Superintendent Master Sgt. J Bagley stated he expected nothing less from these Airmen and is proud of the way they reacted.
"This is a clear case of them acting based on their training," said Sergeant Bagley. "The willingness to step up and get involved is a byproduct of their individual strength of character in concert with their training. The actions of all these troops are reflective of their skills and shows that a cool head prevails more often. These troops are true heroes."
(Editor's Note: Senior Airman David Underwood separated from the Air Force June 29 and was unreachable for this story.)