Saving lives, one class at a time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
While in theater or at home station, Airmen may find themselves in a situation where applying Self Aid and Buddy Care can mean the difference between life and death for themselves or others.

Because of its importance, the base has recently revamped its SABC program, and in turn, an increased number of Holloman AFB Airmen have played major roles in accident response here, abroad, and in the community.

"As Airmen, it doesn't matter what your job is, you need to learn SABC," said Staff Sgt. James Bosch, 49th Medical Support Squadron diagnostic imaging craftsman. "You never know when you're going to be in a position to help someone in need."

Bosch knows from first-hand experience just how important having SABC skills are.

"I've been stationed at Holloman for three years, and during my off time I've been at the scene of three different vehicle accidents that occurred right outside the gate," Bosch said. "One of the accidents involved two young people in a single-car accident at midnight, so it took the first responders in town 20 to 30 minutes to get out here. The car was standing up on its side out in the desert, so I parked and ran over to where they were. The car was getting ready to tip, so I braced my body to hold the car up while the people inside were trying to get out."

Once they got out, Bosch knew he needed to apply skills learned from SABC training.

"When we got them out we were afraid one of them was going to go into shock because she said her arm was hurting really bad," he said. "So we made a sling out of a piece of cloth we had in the back of the car, and applied it. The guy seemed all right, he just had a few nicks and cuts so we treated those. We also checked their vitals to make sure they were alright until the first responders got there."

Like Bosch, numerous Holloman AFB Airmen have responded to the scene of vehicle accidents and rendered SABC. Just in the last three months, six Airmen have rendered aid including: Staff Sgt. Lionel Garcia, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter; Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Nieves; Senior Airman Aaron Stover; and Staff Sgts. Luis Castaneda, Samuel Renelien, and Travis Pace, all with the 44th Fighter Group.

These Airmen have all attributed their actions to the Air Force training they have received, and more specifically, the SABC training they have received at Holloman AFB

"I think that real-world use of SABC is the major driver in showing how important this program is to get people trained for use in humanitarian issues because you never know what you could encounter," said Capt. Kathryn Randall, 49th Medical Group Education and Training Flight commander. "Everybody needs this program and this is a big change for everybody."

The biggest change, Randall said, is the frequency at which Airmen are required to take the SABC class.

"Every Airman is required to take the class now every two years, and before every deployment," said Staff Sgt. Claudia Ramirez, SABC advisor for the wing. "It teaches basic skills that you can use on your way home if you see a car accident, if you injure yourself, if your family gets hurt and you're all out somewhere, or on the basketball court, football field, or anywhere like that. Also, some content of the class has changed so it's not the same class you may have taken years ago."

Changes in class content includes the application of the combat application tourniquet, the number of CATs and other items in the individual first aid kit, the introduction of care under fire procedures and scene safety, and the change from quick clot powder to combat gauze.

But even with all of the changes in class content, another factor has played an even larger role in the SABC knowledge of Holloman AFB Airmen - the number of Airmen who are actually taking the training.

"Wing-wide, only about 30 percent of Airmen were trained, but since Sergeant Ramirez took over the program we've gone up to about 80 percent," Randall said. "It was in really bad shape because nobody was getting trained, there weren't enough instructors, nobody was reporting how many people they had trained, and some thought the only requirement was the (computer-based training module)."

Getting everybody in the wing trained is the ultimate goal, Ramirez said.

"I train all of the unit (point of contacts), monitors, and instructors, but I also conduct squadron training myself," she said. "I put together three to four classes a month, but I'll go out on the weekend if they need me to, I'll go out to the squadrons if they need me to, or they can come here, or use our classroom. To get to 100 percent of everybody trained, it's going to take everybody's cooperation. It can be an attainable number."

In the end, Bosch said, gaining SABC skills is a must.

"I can't say enough how important it is to take the class, because you just never know when you will need those skills," he said. "That's why we all learn it."

For more information on the 49th Wing's SABC program, contact Ramirez at 572-7847.