Reserve Airman saves fellow Airman after ATV rollover

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Conner
  • 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs
The swift actions of an Airman during an ATV accident saved the limb and probably the life of a fellow Airman.

Airman 1st Class Makayla Conant, 477th Security Forces Squadron, was the passenger in a Razor ATV being driven by fellow Security Forces member, Staff Sgt. Philip Strumsky, when the ATV fell on its side after accelerating too quickly from a stopped position.

"The ATV flipped over on my side and the roll cage landed on my arm just below my elbow and trapped me in," said Strumsky. "It was excruciating pain and I looked down to see if my hand was still attached."

Conant immediately unbuckled herself and Strumsky, who was wearing his seat belt, helmet and gloves, and with the help of another friend lifted the roll cage off of Strumsky.

"We had just completed Combat Casualty Care training during Commando Warrior in Guam where they taught us what to do during a Humvee roll over and how to handle that kind of situation," said Conant. "My instincts kicked in and I did what anyone else in the situation would have done."

Conant applied a T-shirt to the wound that was now bleeding heavily, stabilized his arm and called 911.

"I was very impressed that she didn't hesitate or have a deer in the headlights moment. She remembered her training and they immediately got me out," he said. "I was glad. I knew I needed an ambulance. Quick."

The group was on an isolated dirt road five miles from civilization near Houston, Alaska. Their friend rode out to the main road to meet the paramedics and lead them back to the scene.

A member from the Houston Volunteer Fire Department arrived followed by an ambulance that took Strumsky to the Mat-Su Regional Hospital for x-rays. He was then transported to the JBER hospital where he was met by his girlfriend, Lindsey, and 477th SFS superintendent, Master Sgt. Hiram Gunter.

"I was very proud of how Makayla responded and glad that [Staff Sgt.] Strumsky wasn't hurt any worse than he was," said Gunter. "There wasn't any alcohol involved, they were all wearing the appropriate safety protection gear, they had a wingman and they remembered their training. Self-Aid and Buddy Care is more than just computer based training. It is applicable training that could save a life."

After four surgeries and seven days in the hospital Strumsky was released. He has some advice for other outdoor enthusiasts.

"It really is important to make sure that you take a friend with you when you go out," said Strumsky. "If I had been riding alone that day I doubt I would have been able to free myself with one working arm."

The 477th Security Forces Squadron is nominating Conant for a decoration for her rescue efforts that day.