U.S. Army personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Military Information Support Operations (MISO), 411th Civil Affairs Battalion and 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Function Specialty Unit (FxSP) rendered medical aid to Djiboutian car accident victims south of We’a, Djibouti, March 28, 2017.
The Soldiers were returning to Camp Lemonnier from a veterinarian assistance mission near Ali Sabieh when they spotted a vehicle accident on highway RN-1. The accident scene was relatively fresh; a minivan was overturned on the side of the highway with several injured passengers next to the vehicle.
The accident occurred in rural area with no cell phone coverage. The local law enforcement (gendarmerie) were on the scene rerouting traffic, however medical first responders had yet to be been contacted.
“Through a translator our medic, Sgt. Sarah DeArcy, was able to ask the gendarmerie officer if medical assistance was needed,” said U.S. Army Major Gary Brown, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion FxSP senior veterinarian. “The officer stated medical assistance was needed.”
The convoy pulled to the side of the road to not obstruct traffic.
"As a Soldier you want to jump in and help,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Williams, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, team sergeant. “When you come up on a crash site you have to take a deep breath, assess the situation, and act accordingly because someone's life may be in your hands."
U.S. Army Sgt. Sarah DeArcy, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion medic, and other medically trained U.S. service members rendered first aid to the crash victims.
“DeArcy began examining and triaging nine injured passengers,” Brown said. “She was assisted by those of our team that are Combat Life Saver (CLS) qualified.”
DeArcy quickly initiated a rapid trauma assessment, providing treatment to two passengers with traumatic head injuries and another with a broken arm. CLS certified members of the team assessed those with more minor injuries as well as cleaning and bandaging their lacerations.
"As a medic these were my first trauma patients and I was scared,” said DeArcy. “All of my training experience kicked in and with the help of CLS, I was able to properly triage and treat patients. “
Other members of the team contacted the emergency service line to summon an ambulance using a satellite phone. The U.S. Soldiers provided water to all the injured and uninjured individuals involved in the accident.
“The Civil Affairs Team and the FxSP consists of subject matter experts in a variety of medical fields,” Brown said. “We are trained to provide medical support and education not only to [U.S. Africa Command’s] military forces, but to partner nations and our host nation.”
Two Djibouti ambulances arrived at the site relieving the medic and took over immediate care.
“Once Djiboutian ambulances arrived, DeArcy ensured the more critical patients were examined first and transferred to the ambulances,” Brown said. “I was very impressed by DeArcy and the rest of the team's ability to provide initial care, stabilize the patients, and then communicate their efforts to the Djiboutian ambulance service for continuity of care.”
The badly injured were transported to a nearby hospital. The civil affairs and MISO teams departed the scene after the injured were safe in the ambulances.
“My team was exceptional that day,” Brown said. “Every member of the team contributed to caring for all of the injured passengers without hesitation. They used their training and were able to calmly and efficiently apply it to an emergency situation. “
The actions of the U.S. service members resulted in the stabilization of the injured until local medical officials came on scene increasing their chances of survival.
DeArcy received the Army Achievement Medal on April 3, 2017 for her actions and first-aid treatment of the wounded after the accident.