INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Gilson started his day like every other day, buttoning his black chef’s jacket and putting on his matching hat and white sneakers before heading to work at Second Helpings, which provides nonprofit agencies more than 1 million meals each year.
However, the day would not go according to the usual plan. He would be attacked by an unusual suspect, a tilt kettle.
This particular title kettle, also known as a steam jacketed kettle, was filled with 10 gallons of boiling beef stock while it sat on its pivot arm. The beef stock would normally go toward meals sent to food banks and kitchens all over Indiana.
Instead of going all over Indiana, it went all over Gilson’s legs.
“As it tilted, it just poured straight down my legs, hitting from mid-thigh all the way down to my feet,” said Gilson, a kitchen assistant for Second Helpings. “As I was kind of panicking and trying to run down the hall, they sat me down in a chair and before I even realized it three troops had ice bags, ice packs and wet towels. It was like a natural response reaction for them. They put burn cream on and bandaged me up. They were awesome and incredible.”
Luckily for Mike, the members of the Indiana National Guard assigned to assist Second Helpings that day were combat medics. The three troops who rushed to help were Cpl. Ethan Collins, Cpl. Luisa Kolb and Spc. Yoonho Lee, combat medics with 215th Area Support Medical Company, 81st Troop Command from Franklin.
“At the time, I was chopping up onions and veggies, and suddenly I heard Mike scream super loud,“ Lee said. “I stopped what I was doing and I ran over there. There was hot soup all over the floor, so I could immediately tell that he poured hot soup over his pants.”
“I was cooking and heard a very loud bang,” Kolb said. “We got Mike out of the kitchen and sat him down. We applied ice on the burns and kept applying until the pain was going away.”
“I was in the dock area when I heard Mike scream, and then I saw Cpl. Kolb and Spc. Lee already providing medical aid,” Collins said. “Cpl. Kolb was able to find burn medication in the medical locker that they keep supplied here. We were able to put medication on him and wrap him up.”
All three medics said their quick response was nothing extraordinary and credited one thing they all share – their military training. However, it was extraordinary. Their lightning-fast reaction prevented Mike from feeling a need to go to the hospital and significantly reduced the damage to his legs and feet. This act of selfless service garnered all three Soldiers the Army Achievement Medal.
This medal recognizes Soldiers for noncombat meritorious service or achievement.
“That’s one of the strengths of the National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Greg Motz, who presented the award. “We don’t come to the community. We come from the community. Especially with a medic or someone who has medical training, it’s just putting that person at the right place and the right time who knows what to do. When those factors bump together you get a positive outcome you might not have otherwise had.”