Vandenberg Airmen help rescue family after car crash

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kyla Gifford
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
A pair of Vandenberg Air Force Base Airmen helped rescue a family after a car crash in Goleta, California, on Oct. 25.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Karason, the 30th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of assignments, and Senior Airman Sarah Cabrera, a 614th Air and Space Operations Center administrator, noticed what looked like flames on the side of the road while driving along Highway 101.

"As we drove a little closer we noticed there was an enormous dust cloud that was generated from a car that had swerved off the road and onto a hill off the expressway, causing it to flip over," Karason said.

Karason immediately pulled his car over and swiftly approached the scene with Cabrera.

"Initially approaching the car I assumed that everyone was out of the car but then I saw a gentleman kicking open the rear passenger door," he said. "Cabrera yelled for one of the members at the scene to call 911. Arriving to the car, the gentleman was in shock and was expressing that there were more individuals located inside the vehicle. He didn't speak English so Cabrera helped with the language barrier and started to communicate in Spanish."

After quickly assessing the situation, the Airmen sprung to action using self-aid and buddy care techniques.

"I saw a young girl in the backseat, and also heard the screaming of a woman coming from the front passenger seat," Karason said. "Another individual on the scene assisted me with getting the young girl out, and while he tended to her, I responded to the woman and got her out of the passenger seat. Once cleared from the wrecked car, we laid her flat on a blanket, treated her for shock and made sure she didn't move any part of her body to prevent more bodily injury."

When the first responders and paramedics arrived on scene, Cabrera was the only person on site who was able to overcome the language barrier and translate for the victims.

"The cops took me to the side to tell me questions to ask the victims," Cabrera said. "What were their names, dates of birth, current address and other important information they needed."

Cabrera said she’s thankful for her military experience that helped her triumph in a difficult situation.

"We practice situational awareness on and off base, and in this case it happened to be off base," she said. "We put our training to the test, and were able to quickly assess the situation and pull a family out of the car to safety."

Cabrera hopes this situation will help shine light on the importance of Air Force training and expand knowledge about different languages and cultures.

"Not only does it open up a new world of opportunities for your career and for yourself, but you never know when you will actually use it," Cabrera said. "In this situation, I was the only one communicating between the crash victims and first responders -- because I knew a second language, I was able to help."

The two Airmen remain humble, attributing their quick thinking to military training and experience.

"I would have to say the training the Air Force has provided just took over," Karason said. "I just felt like I knew what to do and what had to be done, and with the help of Cabrera and a couple other individuals we were able to assist the best we could."

Providing fast and effective care, while assisting and supporting the family, Karason and Cabrera proved the quality of today's American Airmen.

"I am a firm advocate that in our training, you practice how you play," Karason said. "When we are called on, there is no confusion, we just act."