HomeNewsArticle Display

Airman saves life amidst mass shooting

Dr. Nathaniel Ott, an Air Force Reserve instructor in Air University’s LeMay Center Joint Integration directorate, stands in his scrubs at his civilian-capacity career as an ER physician in Odessa, Texas. Ott was on-scene during a mass-shooting incident in Odessa on Aug. 31, 2019, and provided life-saving first-aid to a victim who had sustained three gunshot wounds while in her vehicle.

Dr. Nathaniel Ott, an Air Force Reserve instructor in Air University’s LeMay Center Joint Integration directorate, stands in his scrubs at his civilian-capacity career as an ER physician in Odessa, Texas. Ott was on-scene during a mass shooting incident in Odessa, Aug. 31, 2019, and provided life-saving first aid to a victim who had sustained three gunshot wounds while in her vehicle. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)


An Air Force Reserve member was working in a civilian capacity in Odessa, Texas, August 31, and helped provide life-saving first-aid to a woman suffering from three gunshot wounds.

Lt. Col. Nathaniel Ott, an instructor in Air University’s LeMay Center Joint Integration directorate, was working as an emergency room physician when he heard a “pop” from outside. Ott walked toward the nurses’ station, heard three more distinctive “pop” sounds and stepped outside to see a vehicle with nearby police attempting to assist the driver.

“I ran out across the field to where the vehicle was and, in the driver’s seat, was a young woman who had been shot from the passenger side; there were holes in the passenger side of her car,” Ott said. “She was bleeding pretty profusely and her arm had been broken.”

A paramedic on the scene had put a tourniquet on her arm to help control the bleeding. Ott assessed her condition and concluded the victim needed to be transported to a trauma center. He knew a blood transfusion was the only way to save her life and the ER where he was working is not equipped with blood products or trauma surgeons.

One of the officers on the scene asked Ott if they should wait for an ambulance or get the victim into her police cruiser. The pair decided the victim couldn’t wait and needed to be transported immediately. While the officer and paramedic were assisting the victim, Ott ran back into the ER, grabbed IV components, brought a nurse with him and began working to turn the cruiser into an impromptu ambulance.

“Ambulances have a lot of restrictions on what they can do if there’s an active-shooter situation and the police don’t, so that allowed the patient to get to the hospital quickly,” Ott said. “We then worked on transferring the patient. She was pretty weak and could only sort of stand up with us providing support. We got her into the back seat of the cruiser and the paramedic got into the other side, began working on getting an IV in and the cruiser took off.”

Despite the shooter having left the area initially, the group wasn’t completely safe.

“While we were working on getting the patient transferred, the shooter drives by in front of us, maybe 30 feet away,” said Ott. “Fortunately, he wasn’t shooting at that time and there were quite a few police officers chasing him. It was chaotic. It’s one of those things you don’t really think about in that moment; you just sort of go and focus on your task.”

After passing by, the shooter pulled into a parking lot right next to the facility where Ott was working.

“We had patients in our ER and a police officer said, ‘Hey, you can’t go back there,’ and we told him, ‘Look, we have patients we have to take care of,’” Ott said. “They let us take a circuitous route around the gunfire to get back.”

The victim made it to the hospital and was in recovery.

Following the event, Ott made a point of taking care of what was important in his own life.

“What was next for me was wanting to hug my wife, Terah, and our five kiddos,” said Ott. “They were out of town at the time and took a few days to get back, but it just felt so good to hold them. It puts things in perspective.”

Before his transition from active duty to the Air Force Reserve, Ott served 13 years as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. He then went to medical school and became an emergency physician.

“I can definitely say that training as a fighter pilot and then a year getting mortared in Iraq developed in me the ability to focus on a task and not worry about what else is going on,” Ott said. “Just focus on getting the job done in spite of everything else.”


Facebook Twitter
RT @PACAF: @109thAW Airmen prepare a #LC130 for take-off to Christchurch #NewZealand, Oct. 31. in support of the @NSF managed U.S. Antarcti…
RT @USAF_ACC: Awesome story on @usairforce Air Combat Command Captain supporting his daughter by cheering in sync with her at her football…
RT @cmsaf18: Leaders, listen up. Please speak with your teammates about their #financial readiness. Help them learn & lead them to the AFRC…
Interested in becoming a #pilot? Don't let height concerns stand in your way. Read on for stature requirements here: https://t.co/l1FoZt3nYL
RT @BullisSchool: Today in celebration of our veterans, we welcomed U.S. Air Force Col. D’Anne E. Spence and Master Navigator and Pentagon…
RT @DeptofDefense: Bringing the fight anywhere in any weather! These @usairforce special operators are in Norway, practicing with CV-22 Osp…
RT @PACAF: Working alongside our sister services, allies, and partners allows us to be ready, resilient, and postured for the future. @AusA
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Today we swore in 20 recruits @PhoenixRaceway making them part of the greatest @usairforce on the planet. What better…
RT @DeptofDefense: .@AndersenAFBGuam is one of the world’s most historic Air Force bases! Where did it get its name? Click ▶️ to find out!…
Happy 244th birthday @USMC! Give us a call whenever you need some #airpower. #HappyBirthdayMarines https://t.co/P4yjU1iJLW
RT @AETCommand: #ICYMI: @81trwKeeslerAFB leadership officiated the opening of "The Lighthouse" inside the Larcher Chapel! Read more ⬇️ on t…
Last weekend @SecAFOfficial Barbara Barrett was publicly sworn in as the 25th Secretary of the #AirForce. See the h… https://t.co/1ZGrs8ku0y
As we prepare to honor #veterans around the world, the next generation of #Airmen were sworn in to the #USAF by Ge… https://t.co/sJkvcgrYSI
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Amid devastation, our Airmen go above and beyond to help their local communities to ensure their safety. The @Travis60A
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: .@SecAFOfficial, @cmsaf18 & I held our first town hall this week. Secretary Barrett discussed modernization, readiness…
It was an @AirMobilityCmd takeover @TODAYshow this morning. Hear Gen. Maryanne Miller's story and see her swear in… https://t.co/vrf3UAYxOV
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Tune in to see our very own Director of Staff, Lt. Gen. Jackie Van Ovost, representing the best Air Force in the world…
.@GenDaveGoldfein discussed the implications and effects of unpredictable funding this week. Associated risks inclu… https://t.co/hGKne3fhmd