Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recruiters provide assistance at New Mexico crash scene

by Master Sgt. Andy Stephens
Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

3/17/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Three Air Force recruiters in Albuquerque, N.M., assigned to the 367th Recruiting Squadron put their military training to the test Feb. 24 after they witnessed a motor vehicle collide with a motorcycle, injuring the two riders. The recruiters secured the scene and provided first aid until ambulances arrived.

Master Sgt. Damian Vandevender, Tech. Sgt. Ruben Torres and Staff Sgt. Jose Diaz De Lopediaz had left a science fair in Albuquerque and were about to return to their Cottonwood Mall recruiting station when they witnessed the collision.

"When we saw it happen, we just reacted as we've been trained to help out any Airman in distress," said Vandevender, D-Flight chief. "It's amazing sometimes how our reflexes and training work together in a crisis. All of us hope we were able to make a difference and that the couple makes a speedy recovery."

Lt. Col. Darrell L. Smith, 367th Recruiting Squadron commander, said it was the recruiters' Air Force training that made the difference between being witnesses to such a scene and actually knowing how to save a life.

"Anyone who thinks that a recruiter is just a salesperson for the Air Force is wrong," Smith said. "Our recruiters are the best the Air Force has to offer in their career fields and we complete annual training for everything from critical life-saving to working with local first responders.

"Sometimes, our recruiters have additional skills," Smith continued. "Tech Sergeant Torres was a trained Air Force firefighter prior to becoming a recruiter, while Master Sergeant Vandevender and Staff Sergeant Diaz De Lopediaz have completed their annual skills training. These recruiters represent the epitome of service before self - calm under pressure, delivering lifesaving aid while in uniform and demonstrating the quality of their training in a real life-or-death situation."

According to Smith, Torres checked the motorcyclists for bleeding and broken bones while Vandevender and Diaz helped keep the couple calm and guide traffic around the scene until paramedics arrived. The recruiters then apprised the paramedics of the extent of the injuries to expedite care.

Vandevender credits Torres for his quick thinking, describing the 12-year Air Force veteran (in his second month as a recruiter) as "springing into action without hesitation." The flight chief added that it felt good to be able to make such an important difference in the lives of people in their community.

"Recruiters are invested in the communities they serve," Vandevender said. "While many people might see Airmen like us as apart from civilian society, in reality, we're their neighbors too. We live down the street from you, our kids are friends with yours and we will do everything we can to protect you and your family. On Feb. 24, we were able to prove the spirit of our service to the Albuquerque community, and nothing feels better than when you know you've done the right thing when it's needed most."

Smith said he plans to recognize the Cottonwood Mall station recruiting team for their quick thinking and resourcefulness.

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