PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. - On a gorgeous July day in Pelham, Senior Airman Amy Granfield, a public health technician with the 157th Medical Group, was enjoying her day off wake surfing on Long Pond when she was called to action.
“One of my goals this summer was to get up on the surfboard off the back of the boat,” Granfield said. “My brother and I were wake surfing pretty much all morning with our friends Joe and Eric, and it was the first time I really got it.
“We had planned to go pick up Joe’s daughter that morning,” she explained. “Joe was surfing at the time, so we stopped the boat, he climbed back in and that’s when everything happened.”
A Jet Ski traveling at a high rate of speed crashed into the side of Granfield’s boat, knocking Granfield, her brother, and Eric overboard.
“I didn’t see them coming until they were about 5 feet away,” she said. “My brother, fortunately, saw them from further away, but you know when you see someone flying on a Jet Ski, you don’t think they’re going to hit you; you think they’re going to turn.
“They just kept getting closer and closer and he started screaming, ‘Joe, move the boat, move the boat!’,” she said. “My brother and Eric barely jumped off. I was flung off the back and Joe ducked into the front of the boat.”
The female operator of the Jet Ski and her passenger ended up in the water, severely injured. Granfield said all she remembers is a catastrophic crashing sound, then silence.
“It was as if there was no one on the lake, then as soon as I came up out of the water, everyone was on the lake and coming towards us,” she recalled. “I heard Joe from the boat yell, ‘Is anyone dead?’ and that’s when the panic set in.”
Granfield swam to the boat to find her brother John, Eric and Joe all alive with minor injuries. Then she saw the girls in the water. One was floating in and out of consciousness, and the other injured her leg severely and was losing a lot of blood.
“I swam over as fast as I could to the girl with the injuries, and Eric helped me get her onto the swim platform. Her entire patella bone was exposed and she was losing so much blood,” Granfield said. “That’s when I yelled for a tourniquet, but nothing ever happens on the lake, so no one was carrying a tourniquet. I told Eric to get me the ski rope and we tied it as tight as we could.”
The team of four restarted the boat and drove the Jet Ski operator and passenger to the closest beach, where a police officer was waiting. Granfield and the officer applied a tourniquet and transferred the patient to paramedics.
“Granfield’s quick thinking and courage to help saved a life,” said Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities, adjutant general New Hampshire National Guard. “It’s these values and virtues under the uniform that matter and remind all of us what it truly means to serve.”
Granfield said she would not have been able to do what she did without her training and the family and friends she had with her that day.
“The combination of both my military training and clinical site work was the reason I knew what to do,” she said. “I didn’t have to think because we do so many trainings. It was ingrained in me, but I really couldn’t have done it without John, Eric and Joe.
“We train in the military as a team, and we learn that by doing things as a team, everything is more efficient and more successful,” she said. “That’s exactly what happened on the boat. We were the perfect team.”
Granfield plans to continue her nursing education and stay in orthopedic patient care. She said that while she is still shaken up from the accident, she plans to get back on the surfboard.
“Next year for sure,” she said. “Right now, I work full time at an orthopedic center, working with bones and doctors, and this experience just reinforced how much it means to me. I love patient care; I love taking care of people.”