MANORVILLE, N.Y. - Seven New York Army National Guard MPs worked together to help two people severely injured in a car accident on Long Island’s Sunrise Highway May 20.
The Soldiers, assigned to the 442nd Military Police Company, were in a three-vehicle convoy heading to F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach on eastern Long Island for a weekend training exercise when they spotted the two-vehicle accident at exit 62 of the highway, according to Sgt. Andre Anderson, the convoy commander.
A 2008 Ford F-150 had smashed into a white Dodge Charger. Two people in the pickup truck were out and walking around. Two people were trapped in the sedan.
Anderson, an emergency medical technician, pulled the convoy of two Humvees and an LMTV truck over, hopped out of the LMTV and headed for the white car.
“I immediately ran over, grabbed my knife, cut the airbag and seatbelt off. But the individual wasn’t responsive to painful stimuli,” Anderson said.
Realizing the car’s driver was in shock, Anderson, a 10-year veteran of the Army Guard and a New York City corrections officer, called for help.
“My only objective was getting [the occupants] away from the vehicle and to (a) safe location and make sure their airway, breathing and circulation were intact,“ Anderson recalled.
“We noticed smoke coming (out) of the vehicle and we didn’t know if the fire department was on the way, so we knew that we had to react fast,” he added. “I immediately signaled for the rest of the Soldiers to come out of the vehicles to assist.”
Spc. Tamika McCallum, an EMT with emergency room experience and a medical student, helped Anderson and Spc. Arleny Germonsen get the passengers out of the car.
“We cut the airbags and maintained C-spine stabilization,” she said, referring to the driver’s neck area.
Then she and Anderson “did a ‘1-2-3’ to kind of twist the patient into the back seat and get him out of the car,” McCallum said.
The first patient was unconscious and his body was stiff. That meant sudden movements could hurt him badly, McCallum explained.
Then those three and Spc. Kalifa Johnson and Sgt. Christopher Allen worked together to help the passenger out of the car before going back to aid the driver, McCallum said.
Anderson sent Allen to grab a heat blanket out of his rucksack to keep the driver warm and McCallum put a cervical collar on the driver while Kalifa supported his neck. Then they worked to keep his airway clear while waiting for the local EMT to respond.
The other Soldiers, Spc. Joshua Steinkamp and Sgt. Daren Brijmohan, secured the vehicles and ran over medical supplies as needed.
When the EMTs were on site and ready to leave, the MPs helped get the patients onto a stretcher.
Everybody worked together perfectly, McCallum said.
“I’m proud of everyone with our quick response time and being able to work together, to trust one another, to lift and carry these people out of the car, put them on the ground, check them and get them on a stretcher is amazing,” she said.
Capt. Keith Cohen, the commander of the 442nd MP company, praised the Soldiers for their quick reaction.
“They acted just as they were conditioned to act in those types of situations,” he said. “What they did was a hybrid of their military and civilian training. They were EMTs and a medical student and police officers and they responded.”
Anderson is being recommended for the Soldiers Medal, a recognition of lifesaving action during peacetime, for his quick reaction and leadership, Cohen said.
But he said every one of the seven MPs on the scene did the right thing.
“The majority of the 442 would have acted the same way this detail acted,” Cohen said. “We are a unit made up mostly of first responders.”