Keesler Airmen respond first

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
While on a standard delivery to Gulfport Aug. 28, Staff Sgt. Ryan Kamplain and Airman 1st Class Blake Shell witnessed a sport utility vehicle blow out its rear tire and roll violently just a few hundred feet ahead.

Kamplain and Shell, 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators, reacted immediately, pulled their tractor trailer off to the right side of Interstate 10 headed west, and ran to the vehicle to assist the victims.

"We were the first ones on the scene to help as much as we could," said Kamplain. "We stayed the whole time to assist the investigators; I'd say it was about an hour total."

Both the Airmen are matter-of-fact about the experience. Shell was mostly quiet while Kamplain explained exactly what happened.

"It was pretty much robotic," said Shell, with a shrug. "We just did exactly what we were trained to do."

After removing a 2-year-old child from the vehicle and smelling gas, Shell retrieved a fire extinguisher from the 81st LRS vehicle, removed cans of gas from the wrecked vehicle, and sprayed areas that might catch fire as a precaution, said Kamplain.

There was confusion at the crash scene, with civilians stopping to assist and call emergency help. Kamplain, who was constantly checking the vital signs of an infant rescued from the vehicle, noticed the mother a distance away with another infant that had been ejected from the SUV.

"Luckily, it was still in the car seat," Kamplain said. "A civilian and I checked its pulse, used the ABCs (airway, breathing and circulation), and tried to calm the mother down."

The Airmen remained on scene and kept the situation under control until the paramedics and police arrived.

Biloxi Police Officer Ramon Castillo said, "The Airmen selflessly handled the situation and kept the children out of harm's way. The wreckage in the middle of the road was dangerous. They applied first aid with care and stayed until we could get their statements."

Castillo added, "They should be commended."

The adults and one child were transported to Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport and the two infants were airlifted to a hospital in Mobile, Ala., confirmed Castillo.

Shell stated that he relied on his self-aid and buddy care training to handle the situation. The experience wasn't entirely new to Kamplain, who has been deployed a couple times and was involved in a similar situation on his last convoy deployment.

"When something like that happens, you have to react immediately," said Kamplain. "Your adrenaline starts pumping."