MacDill Airmen jump into action, save life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

“When I heard my name being called, I knew it was go time,” said Airman 1st Class Amari Alexander, one of two first responders after the accident. “I thought to myself, brush off this nervousness because someone’s life is in your hands.”

On Nov. 1, 2018, a civilian skydiver was critically injured at an airdrop zone in Zephyrhills, Florida, when his parachute didn’t deploy correctly. Luckily, Airmen from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, were watching over U.S. Special Operations Command airborne personnel during their requalifying jump training in the area.

“My initial thought was: I know what to do… I just have to do it.” said Senior Airman Ralecia Ogburn, recounting how she remained calm under pressure. “All of my training has prepared me for this moment.”

After the skydiver impacted the ground, Ogburn and Alexander, aerospace medical technicians assigned to the 6th Medical Operations Squadron, immediately rushed to the scene and provided urgent, life-saving medical aid. The patient, an England native, sustained a broken neck and back and was stabilized by the two Airmen until an ambulance could arrive to transport him for follow-on care.

“Once he verbally responded, Airman Alexander and I performed our rapid trauma assessment, which is basically a head-to-toe examination to figure out possible injuries,” Ogburn said. “After the assessment we decided to maintain cervical spine stabilization with a c-collar to prevent further injuries.”

Because of their quick response and selfless actions Senior Airman Ralecia Ogburn and Airman 1st Class Amari Alexander received the Joint Service Commendation for distinguishing themselves by meritorious achievement, award by Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, Commander of United States Special Operations Command on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

“One thing the military teaches is one team, one fight,” Ogburn. “We treated him just the same as we would anyone else, whether he wore a uniform or not.”