Photo Information

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason B. Smith, a corpsman with II Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group, describes a three-car accident on U.S. Highway 210 where a pickup truck rear ended a small sedan, Jan. 27, 2010. Smith and a fellow SOTG corpsman, Petty Officer 1st Class Jesus F. Santiago, pulled a woman from one of the vehicles involved in the accident as flames engulfed her vehicle. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jayson Price)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Jayson Price

Navy corpsmen pull woman from burning vehicle

22 Feb 2010 | SSgt. Jayson E. Price, II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

The  fast thinking and quick action of two Navy corpsmen from II Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group saved the life of a young woman in the aftermath of a multi-car accident on U.S Highway 210, January 27.

“It started just like any day coming to work,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason B. Smith. “I came onto highway 210 at seven in the morning while I was heading to work and the wreck pretty much happened right in front of me.”

After seeing the accident, Smith pulled off to the side of the two-lane highway just as another corpsman, Petty Officer 1st Class Jesus F. Santiago, pulled over to the opposite side. Both men sprinted to the smashed vehicles just as fire began to spread through one of the three vehicles involved in the accident.

“Her vehicle was hit from the rear with exceptional force,” said Smith. “The full-sized pickup truck basically rolled its front wheels onto her back wheels, pushing her trunk compartment onto the backseat, and in turn pushing her car into the vehicle in front of her.”

“I pulled up a couple of minutes after it happened,” said Lt. Col. Michael C. Starling, operations officer for SOTG. “A gunnery sergeant was blocking traffic and the corpsmen were acting swiftly and confidently, extracting the victim from an uncertain and dangerous situation. It was motivating.”

Just as Santiago and Smith pulled the woman from the wreckage, fire partially engulfed the vehicle.

Luckily, according to Smith, the woman appeared to have no serious external injuries. They kept her still, covered her with a blanket and tried to keep her calm with conversation.

“I wanted to know how coherent she was,” said Smith. “I asked her who she was, how old she was, what day it was. Conscious, alert and oriented – that’s what we were looking for.”

Although the accident was unfortunate, the accident victim was fortunate to have corpsmen of the SOTG near by.

“Our corpsmen have unique qualifications that some of their Fleet Marine Force counterparts may not,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Rob Brown, the senior enlisted leader of SOTG’s medical branch. “They receive specialized training and are hand-selected to instruct at the Special Operations Training Group.”

Emergency Medical Services arrived within minutes and the corpsmen reported their observations before the victim was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Thanks to the quick actions of SOTG corpsmen like Santiago and Smith, a potentially deadly accident became a survival story.

 “We saw a wreck, it looked bad, and we deemed it necessary to act. It was the right thing to do,” added Smith.

- 30 -