As many Navy missions have a degree of inherent danger, Navy first responders and medical personnel are trained to quickly provide life-saving medical assistance to Navy and Marine Corps personnel in case of an emergency. Earlier this year, four Sailors assigned to the “Jaguars” of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 60 recently used those same skills to jump into action to provide life-saving aid to two civilians while off duty — just four days apart.
HSM-60’s Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron Pruneda, who had recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida in preparation to check in to the squadron, ran to the aid of a gunshot victim, April 15 after being woken up by gunfire while asleep in his apartment.
Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Denis Camarillo, assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command, was on his way to work when he crossed paths with Pruneda, who was a civilian EMT (emergency medical technician) prior to beginning his Full Time Support career with the Navy Reserve.
Here is their story:
Pruneda: I woke up at the sound of the first shot, and I quickly realized what I was hearing wasn’t fireworks. I heard someone scream right afterward, and I began running around my apartment to look out the windows and try and see what was happening. Out of my bedroom window I saw someone standing over a person lying on the ground, and I just ran out there in my t-shirt, shorts and socks hoping I would be able to help. I saw the teen boy lying face down on the ground, and there was a lot of blood. I asked if anyone had something I could use to stop the bleeding.
Camarillo: I was on my way to work when the person driving in front of me stopped her car and got out. I got out as well to find out what was going on. Right as I realized it was a person on the ground, I saw Pruneda, who I didn’t know was a corpsman at the time, running past me yelling ‘I’m a medic! I’m a medic — I can help!’ When he started asking if anyone had anything to stop the bleeding I ran to get the trauma kit out of my truck.
Pruneda: We were able to use Senior Chief Camarillo’s trauma kit to do our best to stop the bleeding. We kept him calm and awake until the paramedics arrived.
Camarillo: I was on the emergency medical response team at my last command. In this situation, obviously Pruneda had more training than I did, but I was glad that what I learned during that time and running those drills helped me a lot to have a basic sense of what to do to help him help that kid.
Pruneda: Time went by so quickly. I think it would be one thing to be in combat or when on duty as an EMT and expect that this type of situation could happen, but to have it happen when you're asleep in your own home — it’s just tough to process.
Just four days later, Naval Aircrewman Helicopter 2nd Class’ Richard Maier, Steven Heyliger and Jacob Dawson came to the rescue of a motorcyclist in Gulfport, Mississippi. The three Sailors were part of an HSM-60 detachment participating in Southern Strike 2021, the Mississippi National Guard’s large-scale, joint and international military exercise.
Maier, Heyliger and Dawson had been driving back to their Gulfport hotel after going out for dinner, when they noticed the headlight of a downed motorcycle behind a store building. When they turned the car around to take a closer look, they saw an unconscious man pinned under the motorcycle. Maier dialed 911 as they all rushed to help the victim.
Here is their story:
Heyliger: We all jumped out and rendered assistance immediately.
Maier: Our response came naturally as a result of the training received while serving in the Navy. We all joined primarily as Navy search and rescue swimmers, which gives us basic first aid and emergency medical response training. Those skills that we’ve learned throughout the years kind of kicked in when we got on the scene.
Dawson, who worked as a first responder prior to his five years in the Navy, assessed the victim and kept his cervical spine aligned to prevent further injury. When the victim regained consciousness, Dawson tried to keep the man talking and alert to prevent shock.
Dawson: I mostly just reassured him that help was on the way. I asked him his name, his date of birth, if he was on any medications, and where he was hurt to gain more knowledge about him and what happened. He said he got side-swiped and ended up on the ground.
Not long after, a few passersby pulled over to help. The motorcycle, which was sitting only feet away, caught fire and Heyliger immediately sprang into action.
Heyliger: I just rushed to the bike and immediately tried to pick it up and push it away. One of the bystanders knew how to turn off the fuel and we both pushed it away far enough to where it was a safe distance. Local first responders arrived on scene and transported the victim to the hospital.
A few days later, Air National Guard Col. Cindy Smith, the Southern Strike 2021 exercise director, presented the three aircrewmen with coins from Mississippi National Guard Assistant Adjutant General Air Maj. Gen. Mike Nabors.
An award for Pruneda has been submitted as well and is currently in the routing process.
Each of the Sailors went above and beyond to act quickly in emergency situations to save lives.
“We’re incredibly proud of these four Sailors, not only for their quick reactions in both situations, but that as soon as they saw something wrong, they took care of it and immediately rendered aid,” said Cmdr. Dan Jones, HSM-60’s commanding officer. “Whether on duty or off duty, these are clear examples of not only the high level of training they have as first responders as aircrew and as a corpsman, respectively, but also of their commitment to taking care of people.”
Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve mans, trains and equips the Naval Air Force Reserve in order to provide enduring operational support and strategic depth to Naval forces that win in combat.
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