Virginia Air Guard members assist with rescue of accident victim during drill weekend

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham and Senior Airman Kellyann Novak
  • 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
When Maj. Kelly Niedzwiecki and Maj. Zach Hoffman wrapped up their duty day, they headed downtown for dinner.  They had no idea the loud screeching noise heard outside their vehicle would pull them into a rescue effort to save a woman's life.
"While sitting at the traffic light, we heard a loud noise and saw this silver truck rolling through the intersection. It rolled like three or four times and stopped on its side," said Hoffman.

With quick thinking, Niedzwiecki and Hoffman, members of the Virginia Air National Guard's 192D Medical Group (CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package Team), put their skills and training to use.

As a full-time Medical Plans and Operations officer, Niedzwiecki recognized the importance of scene safety and maintained the gathering crowd while directing traffic away from the scene.

"I knew I was not needed at the scene, so I did not go over and confuse things more. I felt like we all knew that we should stay in our place and not get involved in something that was already being taken care of," said Niedzwiecki.

Hoffman, a full-time Emergency Medicine Physician in the Richmond area and 192nd medical doctor, along with other witnesses to the accident, went to aid the woman who was still hanging sideways by her seatbelt.  Hoffman's experience told him to leave the woman in the vehicle until emergency medical services arrived. However, that changed instantly when black smoke began to spew from the truck's engine. He knew they needed to act quickly.

"Somebody offered a knife and cut the seat belt, and we all pulled her out," said Hoffman.  Once she was moved to safety, Hoffman used his training to provide vital medical assistance at the scene; he performed a rapid medical assessment to check her airway, breathing and circulation to ensure there were no physical signs of injury.

Col. Ed Rutherford, Commander of the 192D Medical Group was notified of Maj. Niedzwiecki and Maj. Hoffman's actions.  "While it is no surprise to any of us in the Med Group, these life-saving events are part of what we do.  We are fortunate to have highly trained, dedicated & combat-proven professionals as an asset to the 192D Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard & community at large."

Shortly after, an emergency response team arrived and took over the medical care. The woman was transported to a local emergency room by ambulance and, according to Dr. Hoffman's assessment, is expected to make a full recovery.