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AF medic recognized for aiding accident victims at Fort Bragg (now Fort Liberty) gate

  • Published
  • By Marvin Krause
  • 43rd Airlift Group

An Air Force medic was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal here Sept. 17 for rendering first aid to three victims involved in a multiple vehicle accident near Fort Bragg's Reilly Gate on June 25.

Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Carter, an aeromedical evacuation technician assigned to the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was presented the medal by her commander, Col. Ricky Sexton, during a ceremony attended by fellow squadron Airmen.

"On my way to work, I was going to pick up some smoothies for some of my coworkers," Carter said. "I was at the Reilly Gate where the gate guard was checking my identification card and as he was handing it back to me, I saw this car accident happening in slow motion in front of me."

According to Carter, one car was trying to exit out of the gate while another car had just come through the gate and was making a left hand turn onto Reilly Road. The car that was approaching the intersection struck the turning car. The momentum of the crash caused both cars to strike another car that was waiting at the light.

As the initial medic on scene, she quickly assessed the mishap and found the driver of the first car pinned inside of the vehicle.

"I told the guard that I was a medic and that I have to go help them," she said. "I ran to the first car with a single female victim and the car's air bags were deployed. I tried to open the car door but it was jammed. She was freaking out and apparently in shock but with no visible injuries."

After discovering the doors wouldn't open, Carter directed a police officer to continue talking to the driver to keep her calm, helping her to remain conscious and preventing further injuries.

"If anything happens, I'll be right behind you," Carter told the police officer.

She then directed another bystander to attend the seemingly less injured driver from the second car. Noticing a third vehicle smoking profusely, she rushed over to the car to provide assistance, calming the driver and guiding her to a safe location away from the vehicle.

"The car started rolling backwards and it was smoking," Carter said. "I started chasing the car because I didn't know if she put her car in reverse or was trying to leave the scene or if something else was going on."

Carter then rendered first aid to the third victim by immobilizing her cervical spine, ensuring it remained secure until emergency personnel arrived.

"I helped her out of the car and I laid her down on the ground so I could hold her cervical spine in place because I saw the impact of the car accident. Her finger was broken but she didn't have any other injuries," Carter said.

The fire department and emergency medical technicians arrived shortly afterwards and treated the injured. They had to use the Jaws of Life to remove the first victim who was pinned in her vehicle.

In addition to utilizing her training to provide medical care, Cater also coordinated the cordon of the accident scene with military police, mitigating additional danger to the victims and bystanders in the immediate area.

After receiving her medal, Carter reflected on the incident and why she didn't think twice about helping the victims.

"If it were me, I would want someone to help me," Carter said. "Anytime I see a car accident, I always pull over on the side of the road because that's my job. If I were to drive past the scene of a car accident and that person dies for whatever reason and I saw it on the news, I would say to myself, you know, I could have done something about it. That's why I always stop when I see a car accident, always, if I can."