Right place, right time: Airman saves lives

  • Published
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

March 7, 2020, started off as a long day, coming home from working during the Nuclear Operational Readiness Exercise, Tech. Sgt. Lowery was on his way southbound over the Alafia Bridge in East Tampa. As he drove closer to the base of the bridge, a car and motorcycle collided, and for the next two hours, Lowery’s security forces medical training and prior emergency medical technician experience would help him with assisting in his first-ever witnessed accident.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zachary Lowery, a 6th Security Forces Squadron unit deployment manager, had never seen an accident happen in his lifetime, but has shown his willingness to help in the past.

“I have never been in a position where I saw a wreck happen and was first there, but I have stopped and tried to help out others,” said Lowery. “Most times emergency personnel are there quickly and there is not a need; however, I have had experiences such as this in the past when I was an EMT.”
Thinking back to his EMT experience and security forces training, he immediately pulled over to assist with the accident, after witnessing the female bike passenger slam into the asphalt and the male bike driver hit the pavement rolling while the car that hit them drove away.

“When he first arrived there were other motorists that pulled over and stood there watching, without hesitation he went to both riders to see who was injured more and began stabilizing both of them after they exhibited signs of a concussion and possible fracture,” said Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Gilberston, 6th SFS superintendent of logistics and resources and Lowery’s direct supervisor.

Immediately upon running up to the victims, Lowery noticed that the male was bleeding with what seemed to be a fractured arm and was conscious, while the female lied motionless with a concussion and some facial injuries. He immediately started assessing the situation while others called 911.

According to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Peter Laing, a U.S. Central Command facilities superintendent and another Airman that responded, Lowery quickly assessed and made the area safer by moving the bike and protecting the victims from further injury. He stayed by their side and provided treatment and comfort until Fire and EMS arrived. Even after they arrived on scene, Lowery continued to care for the patient by loading them on the back boards and strapping them down.

To help ensure the victims were taken care of, Lowery even contacted the male victim’s family via phone, and maintained conversation with both victims to keep them coherent throughout the whole process, ensuring their survival.

“It was amazing to me to see how natural and instinctual it was for him to just jump in while dozens of people stood by and take action to not only keep everyone safe,” said Laing. “He was vital to keeping them calm and treating their immediate injuries ensuring the best chance of a full recovery for them both.”
The incident ended with Laing throwing the male riders wallet chain onto the gurney, and the rider asking Laing to tell everyone, “Thank you guys so much for stopping and helping.”

After that, Lowery went on his day as if nothing had ever happened.

“Tech. Sgt. Lowery is a consummate professional who is consistently putting the needs of others before his own,” said Gilbertson. “Their efforts not only ensured the safety of the accident victims, but it speaks volumes to the level of compassion that our Airmen possess.”

We all go throughout our day as if nothing is ever going to happen, but as Lowery showed, when we come across a time where someone is in need, it shows the hard work and dedication that MacDill Airmen have towards helping others no matter the time or place.