by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
6/11/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- For three Airmen assigned here, life is about lending a hand to those who need it most without expecting anything in return.
On May 31, Capt. Lance Bacon, 99th Medical Operations Squadron emergency
medicine physician; Senior Airman Gregory Tamuzza, 823rd Maintenance
Squadron rescue specialist; and Senior Airman Jerome Coley, 99th
Communications Squadron knowledge operator; extended that hand to an
unconscious male and female couple whose SUV rolled over on the highway.
Tamuzza was traveling northbound on Interstate 15 with longtime friend
Coley, who was in a separate vehicle, when he noticed traffic was
"I pulled up and saw clouds of smoke," said Tamuzza. "It was the end of a
roll over and I noticed the SUV came to a stop on its side."
Being the first to arrive at the scene, Tamuzza noticed a female
passenger was partially ejected and pinned underneath the vehicle. The
male driver was partially slumped on top of her, but still inside the
"As soon as I noticed what was going on, I got out of my car and ran to
see if anyone was inside the vehicle," said Coley. "I was on the top
side of the vehicle when I heard people yelling that the engine was on
Tamuzza was the first to take action by kicking out the windshield to
try and reach the couple, but he still couldn't get to the unconscious
"The door was locked and I was running off of adrenaline, so I tried
punching the driver's side window twice," said Tamuzza. "Eventually I
just kicked the window in."
After kicking in the rear window he could finally reach the victims, but
with the SUV partially on top of the woman, he could not free either
During this time, another passerby stopped by with a fire extinguisher
and put out the engine fire. After the fire was extinguished, Tamuzza
and Coley were yelling at the passengers in the vehicle, trying to
gather a response from them.
"At this point, my first thought was that we needed to get the car into
the upright position," said Coley. "Two more pedestrians came up and we
agreed to flip the vehicle upright again. We finally flipped the car
upright and the trapped individuals, still unconscious, slid through the
passenger side window."
Bacon arrived at the accident scene just in time to assist with the
injured individuals. The female passenger regained consciousness a few
"She was in shock and started yelling and trying to lift her head off
the ground," said Coley. "I kneeled by her head and attempted to hold
her still, while doing my best to hold her hand."
The back of the male's head was crushed; he was gasping for breath and
was still unconscious. Tamuzza performed the jaw thrust procedure and
removed glass from inside his mouth, which enabled the victim to breathe
"Capt. Bacon started prompting commands to me," said Tamuzza. "I didn't really hear anything else."
Eventually Bacon took over the procedure from Tamuzza, but did call him
back over to assist him. Bacon had Tamuzza perform a sternal rub while
he kept the male's airway open until paramedics and the Nevada Highway
The Highway Patrol had the three Airmen fill out police reports about the incident and thanked them for their quick actions.
The on-scene patrolman stated the victims would have died if they didn't
do what they did and they now have a fighting chance to live.
"My Air Force training helped me remain calm under pressure, to use the
methods of patient triage to provide care to the more critically injured
individual and work as a team to ensure the safety of the victims and
those assisting until the paramedics arrived to take over," said Bacon.
"I stopped because I knew there were no paramedics on scene yet to
transport the patient, and I consider it my responsibility as an
emergency physician to provide whatever care in an acute situation."
The 823rd Maintenance Squadron superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. Kevin
Fife, applauded the rescuers on their swift and brave actions.
"Words cannot describe how grateful I am to serve with these U. S. Air
Force Heroes. Senior Airman Tamuzza, Senior Airman Coley, and Capt.
Bacon took action when lives were on the line and they held true to the
U. S. Air Force Rescue motto 'That Others May Live' and exemplified our
dedication to the civilians we protect," Fife said. "The selfless
devotion these three had to others' lives, cements our commitment to the
community in which we serve."