MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, NC --
Twenty Cherry Point first responders accepted one of the Marine Corps’ top life-saving awards during a brief pause in their normally busy schedules on the air station Nov. 8, 2018.
Firefighters and paramedics from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Fire and Emergency Services occasionally get a pat on the back for services they provide to air station personnel and members of the local community, but, on this day, senior leaders had the rare opportunity to present the Marine Corps Fire and Emergency Services Life-Saving Award for two separate emergency responses. The awards were presented by Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, commander of Marine Corps Installations Command, and Col. Todd Ferry, the MCAS Cherry Point commanding officer. These two presentations represented half of all such awards in the Marine Corps this year.
“When we have to do our job, it’s more than likely the worst day of someone’s life,” said F.G. Nicholas Salter, the Cherry Point fire chief.
The chief’s comment was no understatement when, in early January, the department received an emergency call for a Marine trapped under the collapsed nose gear of an EA-6B Prowler. The first ambulance arrived on scene in less than five minutes from the initial 911 call, followed shortly thereafter by the remainder of the responders assigned to the shift. In all, the entire 17-person shift participated in the highly unusual rescue.
According to Salter, the injured Marine was trapped in the tightly confined nose-wheel well of the bulky jet, with only his feet visible outside of the aircraft.
The team immediately began working to save the Marine’s life and within 15 minutes, the 58,000-pound aircraft was lifted off the injured Marine and lifesaving aid was administered. From the initial call, to the time the Marine was freed of the aircraft and transferred to a higher level of care, only 50 minutes had elapsed.
The first responders were able to get the Marine to a trauma center all within the “golden hour,” the first 60 minutes after a traumatic incident where medical treatment has the best chance to prevent death.
Captains Edward Hudson and James Johnson; firefighters Raymond Bane, Craig Crytzer, Michael Grace, Phillip Lawrence, Maurice Phelps, Matthew Preswood, Thomas Saenger, Eric Slaughter, Joseph Smith and Adam Willis; and paramedics Scott Cleland, Jeremy Misenhelder, Brandon Moore, Michael Spencer and Dean Urquhart were all given individual awards for the roles they had in saving the Marine’s life.
“It’s the quality of our people,” said James Johnson, a Cherry Point fire captain. “They want to do good things and genuinely give back. I am extremely proud of our personnel.”
The second award was presented to paramedics Daniel Whitehead and Daniel Foster and firefighter Joey Mullins for their quick, lifesaving actions on April 8, 2018, when they responded to a call from local police about a severely injured off-base civilian. When they arrived on scene, police had responded to a victim of a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head.
Due to their tediously honed skills, the patient was transferred to aeromedical flight medics within 25 minutes of the initial call, significantly contributing to the victim’s survival after emergency medical care.
These kinds of emergency actions are possible largely due to one reason – when not out on calls, Cherry Point firefighters train to make sure they are prepared for the worst.
“When the alarm goes off and it’s time to do the job, there is no question or concern of how the team is going to work together and carry out the mission,” said Salter.