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Airmen's instincts save motorcyclists after violent crash

(Graphic by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

(Graphic by Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- -- Driving home on a warm, summer night, two Team Buckley members came across a scene one could only hope was a nightmare. A cluster of people surrounded a marred vehicle.

"I looked over and everyone was frantic," said Staff Sgt. Charlotte Teitelbaum, 460th Space Wing command chief's executive assistant. "People were yelling 'Call 911!' I couldn't just keep going home and leave those people there."

An SUV had run a red light and broadsided a motorcycle, leaving the two riders lying 20-feet away.

Realizing the extremity of the situation, Charlotte and her husband, Aaron, also a staff sergeant in the Air Force, bolted into action, assessing and triaging the two people injured.

"The man only had a broken leg, but the female's bottom right leg was completely mangled," Charlotte remembered. "Hers was a compound fracture, meaning bones, muscles and tendons were protruding. The guy was a lot better off than the female."

Charlotte's first, and most important, move was stabilizing the women's head. She worried that the women suffered from a spinal injury.

"I just kept thinking to myself, 'Stabilize the head. Make sure she's breathing,'" she said.

Trying to keep the victims calm, Charlotte and Aaron asked simple questions such as what their names were and their ages to judge the victims' cognitive states and keep them from going into shock.

Another man pulled up to the scene to assist the Teitelbaums. He took off his belt off and fastened it around the women's thigh to try to slow the bleeding.

Once the fire department arrived, the victims were rushed to the hospital and the Teitelbaums were told to leave the scene. Neither Charlotte nor Aaron has since heard anything else about the accident--searching for a story on the victims' status with no luck. However, Charlotte believes that the self aid and buddy care training the Air Force instilled in them helped alleviate the victims' situation, if not kept them alive.

"It really hit me when I was walking back to my car what just happened," Charlotte said. "It came so naturally to me. Everything I knew was from self aid and buddy care. The years of training are what helped me prevent further injury to these victims."

Although computer-based trainings and classes are tedious, Charlotte stresses that learning the basics is the single most important thing people can do to better themselves.

"You never know where you're going to be when something happens," she said. "I'm just so thankful it wasn't worse. It could have been so much worse."
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