ROSSFORD, Ohio – For five Ohio National Guard Soldiers on a mission in Lucas County, the National Guard motto of "Always Ready, Always There," was more real than ever as they jumped into action, saving a local woman's life.
While traveling back to the unit's home base at the Armory in Walbridge March 23, the Soldiers witnessed a single-vehicle crash and immediately acted.
"After watching the vehicle hit a culvert on the side of the highway, we decided to stop and make sure the passengers were OK," said Spc. Aaron Gelb of Perrysburg, an indirect fire infantryman assigned to the Ohio Guard's HHC 1-148th Infantry Regiment – 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. "Our training kicked in at that point and we didn't hesitate or give it a second thought."
Soldiers participate in annual combat lifesaver training to aid victims until medical assistance arrives.
"We knew it was a serious situation," said Spc. Michael Flipse of Pemberville, a mortarman also assigned to the infantry regiment. "We wanted to help in any way possible."
First on the scene, the Soldiers headed straight for the vehicle to access the situation and determined there was only one passenger.
"It was really an exercise in teamwork," said Spc. Austin Tolles of Deshler, a multichannel transmission systems operator and maintainer, also with the infantry regiment. "I grabbed my pocketknife for Spc. Gelb to break the window, and together we extracted the driver from the vehicle and moved her to safety.
"There was obviously something wrong," said Tolles. "The passenger was blueish in color and unresponsive, so we immediately assessed her airway, breathing and circulation and conducted sternum rubs in an attempt to regain consciousness."
While the Soldiers worked to regain the driver's consciousness, other passersby remained on the phone with 911 dispatchers until law enforcement and paramedics arrived.
"The Soldiers' quick actions had a significant impact on the outcome of the incident," said Todd A. Kitzler, Rossford police chief. "Their willingness to put themselves in danger to assist a person in need on a busy interstate highway is a credit to their profession."
"The team was highly reactive," said 2nd Lt. Stephen Reid of Columbus and officer in charge of the Soldiers. "It is a true testament to their training."
The Soldiers were among some 400 Ohio National Guard members activated March 18 by Gov. Mike DeWine to respond to the coronavirus at 12 locations across the state, helping food banks feed Ohioans in Operation Steady Resolve.
"There is nothing more valuable to the safety and security of our communities, state and country, than having Citizen-Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines willing to go above and beyond to assist in emergency situations," said the police chief, a veteran of the Army and the Ohio National Guard from 1986 to 1996.