Air National Guard Airman rescues injured car wreck victim

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Nious,
  • 129th Rescue Wing

MOFFETT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. - “Always ready, always there.” It’s a concept drilled into every member of the National Guard from the time they take the oath. The call to serve could come at any moment.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Hyunsoo Kim exemplified that principle while driving home from a training exercise Sept. 21 and witnessing an overturned truck in the carpool lane of Highway 101 in Santa Clara. As he passed by the accident, Kim noticed the pickup was leaking fluid and emitting smoke with the driver still inside.

“Initially, I’m thinking, ‘I need to get this dude out,’” said Kim, an HH-60 Pave Hawk pilot with the 129th Rescue Squadron. “This guy is visibly injured, he’s agitated, he’s trapped, he can’t get out of his car. It’s flipped on its side and the cabin is rapidly filling with smoke.”

In addition to his military training treating combat casualties, Kim has years of civilian service as an emergency medical technician. This experience taught Kim that taking swift action can save lives.

Still equipped with his safety gear and tools from his training exercise, Kim darted over to the wreckage and began to extract the driver from his truck.

“I say, ‘Hey, put your hoodie on and look down.’ He does that, and then I punched out the window with my multitool,” Kim said.

Kim pulled the 29-year-old construction worker from his vehicle and performed a trauma assessment, keeping the man calm by assuring him he was safe.

“I know the whole world is crashing down on your shoulders right now, but dude, you’re lucky to be alive,” Kim told the driver.

Kim stayed with the patient until first responders with Santa Clara County Fire and California Highway Patrol arrived. The driver suffered a fractured forearm and a cut on his forehead.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tavis McDevitt, commander of the 129th Rescue Squadron, was proud to hear how his recently commissioned officer used his skills and training to help someone away from the battlefield.

“Not only is (Kim) a great combat search and rescue helicopter member, but more importantly, he gets what it takes to be a Citizen-Airman,” McDevitt said. “What makes us different from active duty is, not only do we train and deploy sometimes, but every day we are here for the citizens of California.”

“I don’t think anything I did was remarkable or out of the ordinary,” said Kim. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I’m pretty sure anyone else would have done the same thing.”