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NEWS | Sept. 11, 2008

Randolph civilian saves life, receives valor award

By Master Sgt. James Brabenec Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

Greg Roberts drew upon first-aid skills learned during his active-duty career to save the life of man wounded in a car accident near the main gate here in April.

The actions of this Air Force Manpower Agency systems analyst led to him receiving the Air Force Command Valor Award during a ceremony Aug. 29.

"It's an honor to present this award to Mr. Greg Roberts for his selfless actions," said Col. Daniel Badger Jr., AFMA commander, during the award ceremony. "Greg's reactions in the face of a terrible traffic accident took tremendous courage."

Mr. Roberts' trip off base for lunch turned into an errand of mercy. While waiting to make a left-hand turn, he saw two cars ahead of him enter the intersection as the turn arrow changed to red. The first car cleared the intersection, but an oncoming tractor-trailer truck slammed into the second car sending it careening across the intersection toward the Randolph main gate.

"The whole incident unfolded before me, almost like I was sitting at home watching it on TV," he said. "My Air Force training took over as I called 911 to alert emergency medical services personnel and cared for the injured."

With cars askew and debris littering the pavement, Mr. Roberts first approached the driver of the second car who was standing outside the wreck hysterically crying for her fiancé. The young man lay unresponsive, pinned in the front passenger seat inside the twisted vehicle.

"While I attempted to console her and make sure she wasn't injured, a second male passenger crawled out from the backseat bleeding profusely from an open wound to his neck," he said. "Once I responded to him and sat him down on the curb, my world got really small, and nothing else concerned me."

Faced with the need to act immediately and with no other materials available to use as a compress, Mr. Roberts reached into the wound and applied his bare hand to restrict the flow of spurting blood. He continued this for about 10 to 15 minutes and treated the individual for shock.

By that time, EMS personnel arrived and took over care, and Mr. Roberts turned his attention back to the driver. He provided comfort until the other young man was freed from the wreckage. The three individuals were then rushed to emergency medical care.

Having gone the distance to help others, Mr. Roberts' ordeal had only just begun. Seeking out assistance from an EMS technician to wash the blood off his arms, he discovered an open blister on the palm of his hand that occurred the day before while doing yard work. This was the same hand he used to apply direct pressure to the bleeding man.

At the insistence of medical personnel, he checked in at the Brooke Army Medical Center emergency room and was treated for blood exposure. He waited six hours for doctors to determine the young man wasn't a carrier of any infectious diseases. Later, he received three precautionary shots against hepatitis.

Mr. Roberts said thoughts of his own children urged him to assist the people injured in this accident. He added he could only hope if they ever encounter a similar fate someone will be there to help them.

"I reminded them to drive safely and pay attention," he said. "This accident could have involved them instead of these three young people whose lives were changed in a split second."