Military News

Friday, April 03, 2015

In the right place at the right time

by Senior Airman Keenan Berry
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/3/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Airmen train daily to be warriors not only for global affairs, but local situations as well.

When a tragic situation arises, Airmen are called upon to perform heroic deeds to ensure safety of citizens. Tragic situations are never scheduled, they just happen. For Senior Airman Cory Barrett, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, he experienced this first-hand.

On a February afternoon, a local resident from Warrensburg, Mo., was driving himself to a hospital to receive treatment and totaled his vehicle on the DD highway roundabout. Fortunately for the victim, Barrett was there to assist.

"I was coming from Warrensburg, Mo., on my way to the gym riding down DD highway when I arrived at the roundabout and slowed down to yield," Barrett said. "Out of nowhere I saw a car go airborne, hit the middle of the roundabout, go airborne again and land on its front end. It reminded me of something out of a movie."

But this was far from a movie; it was reality and Barrett had to react quickly knowing a life was in need of assistance.

"I was the only one present at the roundabout besides the victim. Without a moment to spare, I grabbed my phone, got out of my car and ran to the vehicle," Barrett said.

"When I looked back, I saw a car pull up and an Air Force Captain got out of her car to assist. I instructed her to call 911 while I tended to the victim. I ran to the side of the vehicle and knocked to see if he was conscious. I knocked once, and he remained lying there in his seat with his eyes closed. I knocked twice again, still no reply. I knocked harder the third time and he woke up. I thought he was dead at first, but I kept trying anyway."

Capt. Kassandra McRae, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer, called 911 as Barrett tended to the victim.

"When he finally woke up, I asked him if he knew what happened," Barrett said. "While he was explaining what he remembered, I noticed smoke coming from the corner of his car. I went to the front, and saw flames. In that instant, I knew I had to get him out immediately before the car potentially exploded."

In normal circumstances, extreme caution is necessary when handling victims to prevent further injury. But with flames coming from the car, immediate action was necessary.

"I went back around, opened the door and informed him that I was going to pull him out the vehicle," Barrett said. "As I was pulling him out of the vehicle, all I could think about was what if this car explodes..."

Fortunately, Barrett was able to get the victim to safety. Soon after, a veteran arrived on scene with an extinguisher and put the flames out.

While Barrett was assisting the victim, he noticed the victim's thumb had a gash and pieces of it were missing.

"I thought he damaged his thumb in the accident, but he explained what exactly happened," said Barrett. "The victim was at home working when he chopped his finger. He got in the car and tried to go to the emergency room. While he was driving, he went into shock and hit the gas pedal when he was supposed to slow down. It was like being on a movie set."

Barrett did the only thing he could, elevate the victim's arm to slow down the bleeding.
When the medics arrived, they gave him immediate attention. They asked him if he could walk and he confirmed he could. They got him into the ambulance and rode to the hospital.

Barrett impressed fellow wingmen with his heroic deed.

"Barrett performed in such a professional and helpful manner at the scene of the accident," McRae said. "He ensured the safety of the victim and those of us in the area, and stayed engaged with the victim so he could remain calm until the paramedics arrived. It was very inspiring to witness one of our Airmen rising up in an emergency situation and perform as a true leader and upstanding citizen."

Barrett demonstrated an act of valor and selflessness admired by his peers and coworkers. He humbly states in a situation like this, anyone would have done it.

"Some lessons I learned from this are to never assume a car is going to stop," said Barrett. "Always wait for a car to come to a complete stop while yielding because you never know what could happen. Remember life is a precious thing."

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