TERRE HUT, Ind. – Two Indiana National Guard pilots from the 181st Intelligence Wing provided intensive care after a rollover accident left them upside down in a truck.
Staff Sergeant Marlena Hargraves and Senior Airman Janelle Bonitati were on their way home at the end of their duty day on Dec. 3 when they saw smoke rising from the crash site and rushed to help.
Hargraves, a civilian cardiopulmonary technician and medical staff member of Indiana’s 19th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives Enhanced Response Team Pack, arrived at the scene to find the driver and passengers trapped inside the vehicle.
Hargraves and another bystander broke the driver’s side window, entered the vehicle and cut the seatbelts for the two occupants. She pulled the driver out of the car and got back into the car to lay the passenger down.
Meanwhile, Bonitati, a civilian paramedic and member of the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron, arrived at the scene and noticed that the passenger’s hand was badly injured.
Bonitati helped wrap the passenger’s hand in a towel and applied pressure to control the bleeding. After emergency personnel arrived, she took an extraction blanket to the car and put a neck brace on the driver and passenger.
Hargraves and Bonitati helped first responders extract the passengers from the vehicle and remained at the scene for more than half an hour until first responders lifted the passengers onto the medical helicopter.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the scene, the pilots relied on their training and civilian experience to provide assistance.
“The only thing I really learned about hemostasis came from the military,” Hargraves said. “I felt like there were a few people standing around, but no one was offering any help. I was one of those people who wanted to help.”
Airmen also believed that the 181st IW instilled a will to respond to crises.
“We did what anyone in this department would do,” Hargraves said. “It’s critical because I think if someone [from the 181st IW] If outside, they will do the same. “
Still, the pilot’s efforts were recognized.
“It took a lot of courage to stop first,” said Lt. Col. Laura Flood, nurse and commander of the 19th CERFP Medical Unit 1 of the 181st Medical Group. “[Hargraves and Bonitati] Didn’t know each other, but they came together as a team. Very heroic. “