AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --
The U.S. Air Force Core Values outline the standards by which Airmen should live by; Integrity First, Excellence In All We Do, and Service Before Self.
Three 31st Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron members showcased these core values through responding to a vehicle incident during a temporary duty travel (TDY) in Ben Guerir, Morocco, for exercise AFRICAN LION, June 11, 2021.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mario Vaiese, 31st SFS team leader, Tech. Sgt. Jordan Whitlock, 31st SFS squad leader, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Levi Schofield, 31st SFS fire team leader, sprang into action to respond to a head-on collision involving a van and four Moroccan nationals on two mopeds.
“I was separated from my SFS counterparts in a middle van of the three total vans as we drove into the mountains of Morocco,” said Schofield. “My vehicle is the van in which we collided into the moped and we stopped after a curve and immediately the scene was hectic.”
The team immediately pulled over to the side of the road and directed traffic to help prevent another accident on the narrow mountain road. They then cleared the scene of debris and relocated the injured individuals to a safer location.
None of the injured individuals wore safety gear during the incident and were dressed in sandals, shorts, and t-shirts causing all four individuals to sustain injuries of some degree, said Whitlock.
“Three of the Moroccan nationals were in a verbal confrontation with one another while one seriously injured individual was on the ground holding his foot and rocking back and forth,” said Vaiese.
Vaiese enlisted the aid of local bystanders to help perform basic Self-Aid Buddy Care on the moped driver with the injured foot.
“I instructed the helper to remove the injured individual’s shirt and use this to wrap it around his foot which sustained a major injury,” Vaiese said. “Then I ran back to the vehicle to retrieve my cooling towel to use as a tool to tighten the shirt and apply direct pressure.”
Whitlock jumped out of the vehicle and provided instructions to the injured Moroccan nationals on procedures to help stop the bleeding.
In the same instance, Schofield noticed the serious extent of injuries sustained by one of the Moroccan nationals and ran 150 yards to the nearest vehicle to retrieve a first aid kit.
“At first I ran to help and noticed we had no medical supplies,” explained Schofield. “I ran back to my van that was parked down the road and found a small first aid kit which is supplied in most vehicles today. I then took out gloves and put them on, grabbed gauze and bandages, and helped wrapped the occupant’s leg and foot who was hurt the worst.”
Amidst the confusion, Schofield honed in on his previous training and stopped further blood loss from the injured individual.
“Knowing TCCC (tactical combat casualty care) was important in this situation,” said Schofield. “The injuries, which were gruesome and possibly harder for others to assess and treat, seemed easy to understand. Knowing what to do and which medical supplies to utilize equated to fast treatment of their injuries.”
Additionally, Vaiese instructed twenty U.S. Air Force members to remain in the vehicles until local authorities arrived.
“I noticed we had a majority of our individuals standing around outside, and due to the complexity of the travel and safety situation as this collision occurred around a hard bend in mountain roads, I instructed all members to return to their vehicle to limit the visibility of our presence and to keep them out of harm’s way,” said Vaiese.
Additional aid was provided from other SFS members in the situation.
“I’d also like to thank Tech. Sgt. Thames, Staff Sgt. Dickerson, and others for helping keep the rest of the personnel safe and getting them back into their vehicles,” said Vaiese.
The Integrity First core value outlines exercising courage, honesty, and accountability in order to do what is right even when no one is looking. These Airmen displayed this core value with their quick thinking, bravery, and professionalism and are firsthand examples of that core value.
“This situation showed our willingness to get out and lend a hand,” said Vaiese. “When most locals were standing and watching, we acted and saved a life! But the truth is, this was minor in scope and scale of the reality of why we are there which has a greater purpose in the strengthening of relations between NATO, U.S. and a major non-NATO ally.”