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Airmen respond to medical emergency before training mission

By Capt. Hans Zeiger | 194th Wing | Aug. 13, 2018

KIHEI, Hawaii—When Airmen from the Indiana Air National Guard's 181st Medical Group and the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Force Support Squadron encountered a medical emergency on their way to participate in a humanitarian training mission, they responded quickly.

While traveling Aug. 8 to a Hawaii National Guard Armory in Puunene, a caravan of Air Guard members were approaching a red light on the Piilani Highway when a car in front of them crashed into two other vehicles that were stopped at the light. Maj. Steve Martin, a physician assistant in the 181st Medical Group, and Capt. Kelli Marrietta, a nurse in the 181st, were traveling in separate cars and both ran to the accident scene.

The airbags in the car that caused the accident deployed. Martin could see that the driver was having a seizure. Martin began to assess the patient for injuries and asked Marietta to secure the victim's C-spine.

Meanwhile, Tech. Sgt. Danielle Todman of New Jersey's 177th Force Support Squadron went into the highway and directed traffic around the accident scene.

Master Sgt. Sarah Boyll of the 181st Medical Group, who had been traveling with Marietta, went to check with the drivers and passengers in the vehicles that had been hit to make sure they were okay.

When the victim regained consciousness, Martin worked to calm her, and Marietta continued to hold her C-spine.

"Kelli did an extraordinary job maintaining her composure," said Martin, "and we both kept the patient calm until EMS took over."

"Your adrenaline is rushing, but your training kicks in and we're just there to provide the best medical care we've been trained to do," said Marietta.

When emergency medical services arrived on the scene, the Airmen made a hand-off.

"Everything they did was spot on and really helpful for us," said Capt. Scott Martin of the Maui County Department of Fire and Public Safety. It made a difference "for someone who knew what was going on to be there and help. Any time you have people with medical experience there prior to the ambulance to at least secure people and make sure the scene is secure, it's very helpful."

"There was no hesitation," said Boyll. "It happened, and everyone was ready to take their part. It was an instinct on everyone's part to lend a hand."

"You just jump in and do what you can," added Todman. "When that happened, it was reaffirming of why [we] wear the uniform."

The Airmen who responded are among 350 military members representing the Air National Guard, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy Reserve who are in Hawaii for the Tropic Care Maui County 2018 Innovative Readiness Training to provide no-cost medical, dental, and vision services to people at six sites in Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Tropic Care clinics will be open to the public from Aug. 11-19.

For the Tropic Care mission, Martin is serving as the officer in charge of the Kihei clinic, Marietta is the officer in charge of the Molokai clinic, Boyll is the dental non-commissioned officer in charge for the mission, and Todman is a member of the services team for the Molokai site.