Flightlines

Real life emergency teaches airman ‘training is not a waste of time’

Airman 1st Class Ashli Harris, 47th Medical Group flight medicine technician at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, came to the aid of a woman who was struck by a vehicle in San Antonio July 14. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado)

Airman 1st Class Ashli Harris, 47th Medical Group flight medicine technician at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, came to the aid of a woman who was struck by a vehicle in San Antonio July 14. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado)

Her gut told her to turn around.

Airman 1st Class Ashli Harris was returning to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, from visiting family in San Antonio the morning of July 14 when a glimpse in the rear-view mirror told her something wasn’t quite right.

“I knew I had a choice, to keep going or turn around,” she said in an Air Force news release. 

Harris took the next exit off I-410 and made a U-turn. Back on the freeway, she saw a car stopped on the side of the road. Harris pulled over and got out. That’s when she saw it: A man holding a woman who’d been struck by a vehicle.

“It was bad. I was in shock and I froze for an instant but I knew what I had to do,” she was quoted as saying.

Harris, a 47th Medical Group flight medicine technician, was trained to respond to emergencies. But, she said, “it is nothing like the real thing.”

Harris instructed the man on how to stabilized the unconscious woman’s spinal column as she checked the victim’s pulse and tried to rouse her. She remained there until the ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later.

Tragically, the woman died at the hospital later that morning. But Harris said she carried away an important lesson: Training is not a waste of time.

“An exercise is not just for fun. There is a reason for it all,” she said. “I’m just grateful for my training and I am glad I turned around.”

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