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Airman Used Training to Help Shooting Victim

Trent Mitchell was heading to the beach late Wednesday afternoon when something happened that he couldn't initially process.

In front of him, he saw a "woman falling down in the road" on South Avenue in the Ocean City neighborhood and a "guy hopping in a car and driving away."

Mitchell pulled his Jeep into a yard and ran to help the woman, who was later identified as 32-year-old Tamera Sheffield. She had been shot several times and her daughter was with her.

"I evaluated what was going on," said Mitchell, an airman first class at Hurlburt Field. "Cars were driving by and I was kind of in a zone. I asked her what had happened. She was kind of freaking out.

"I applied pressure to her wounds and tried to keep her and her daughter calm."

Authorities say Sheffield was shot five times by a suspect who now is on the run. Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office investigators are searching for 36-year-old Joe 'J' Fernandez, who they believe fled the area in a stolen car.

All Mitchell knew was that he had to help Sheffield until rescuers arrived.

He grabbed a shirt out of his Jeep and used it to apply pressure to her wounds. Soon after, a neighbor who had been putting up a mailbox post in front of where the shooting occurred gave Mitchell some towels and gloves.

To keep Sheffield conscious and to calm her and her daughter, Mitchell asked them basic questions until help arrived.

"I was asking her what her name was, her birth date, simple questions (so she) would stay conscious and not go into shock," he said. "I was asking (her daughter) questions, her address, things to kind of take her mind off of it."

Mitchell, 18, has been stationed at Hurlburt for less than a month. He is with the 801st Special Opera-tions Maintenance Squadron.

He said he used his normal military training and first aid skills to help Sheffield. He stayed at the scene Wednesday for more than four hours, answering questions and trying to help upset family members who showed up.

"I was just telling them that I was right with her when she was down, or hit," he said. "I said that from what I saw, she was doing good. She was still conscious."

Sheffield, who also goes by Tamera Earl, was flown to a hospital in Pensacola in serious condition. The name of the hospital has not been released because the suspect is still at large. She was listed in fair condition Friday, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Michele Nicholson.

Mitchell said he is happy Sheffield survived and feels good about being able to help her. He shrugs off the hero label, although he recognizes that he may have been the right one to find Sheffield that day.

"It could have played out differently," he said.

Tech. Sgt. Stacy Fowler with Hurlburt's 1st Special Operations Wing said Mitchell's actions will earn him special recognition.

"We're definitely proud of our airman," she said. "I foresee good things in his future."

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