Two firefighters from the 420th Air Base Squadron at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom were recently awarded the Robert A. McAllister Heroism Award.
Firefighters Lynsey Pope and Robert McEvoy were recognized by the Air Force for performing an act of courage above and beyond the call of duty after encountering a car crash on an English country road near RAF Croughton July 21, 2011.
Pope and McEvoy were driving to RAF Lakenheath to be seen for their yearly medical physical when they came upon a serious car crash involving three vehicles and no first responders on the scene.
"We were probably within minutes of the crash happening when we got there," Pope said. "One vehicle was completely turned upside down and had the driver ejected from the vehicle where she was pinned down by the debris of the vehicle. The other vehicles were driven off the road and into the hedge."
Although the firefighters were traveling in a vehicle with no medical equipment, the training they've received as first responders allowed them to assess the victims and make decisions that offered the best chance of survival.
"Because the lady (ejected from the vehicle) was pinned down and was still breathing, we determined it was best to leave her there as we didn't have any equipment with us to get her out without risking further injuries," Pope said. "We helped the other victims the best we could by gathering as much information as we could get from them to assist the medical response team.
"We were able to give reports on each of the four victims when paramedics arrived."
Providing the information about the individuals allowed the paramedics to immediately begin treating the victims. Disregarding the risks to themselves, the pair also worked make the scene safe for additional responders by eliminating potential ignition sources. The pair stayed on the scene for more than two hours to assist emergency responders in the removal and transportation of the patients.
"We noticed there was a lot of petrol and other fluids leaking from the vehicles," McEvoy said. "To prevent a fire from happening we turned the ignitions of the vehicles off. Then we directed the people on the scene to stay clear of the hazards."
They believe the training they've been given as firefighters was crucial to staying calm in a stressful situation.
"Without a doubt the training we do gave me the confidence to take charge of the scene and make it safer for those there," Pope said.
Despite being recognized by the Air Force for going above and beyond what's required of them, the pair remain humble about the achievement.
"We don't think we did anything special," Pope said. "Anybody in here (Fairford Fire Department) would have done the same thing."