Five members of Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team were driving home after an Oct. 20 mission at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin when a sea of brake lights forced them to stop.
When they saw two sets of headlights facing the wrong way and that all traffic on the freeway was blocked, the CST recognized there had been a major motor vehicle accident and sprang into response mode.
After sizing up the scene, Capt. Charlotte Koshick came upon an unresponsive woman slumped over the air bag in the driver’s seat of one of the disabled vehicles. Koshick called out to her team members who retrieved the medical aid bag from the CST’s vehicle and brought it to her.
Neither the front nor rear driver’s side door would open, so Koshick had to gain access to the vehicle from the passenger’s side. Now, with direct access to the unresponsive driver, Koshick was able to perform a rapid trauma assessment and provide first aid, including opening the driver’s airway and stabilizing the cervical spine.
Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Ben Hein, Sgt. Tammy Rueth and Sgt. 1st Class Ken Prieur surveyed the rest of the scene and offered aid to the other victims. Finding no one else requiring aid, Rueth and Hein joined Koshick and Capt. Jordan Schultz to assist in providing aid until emergency medical services arrived on scene.
The CST has a unique mission with the Wisconsin National Guard as a full-time response team that augments local authorities during emergencies or terrorist events that involve weapons of mass destruction, toxic industrial chemicals or natural disasters. This team is the epitome of the National Guard’s role of first military responder. Because they are always “on call,” they spend a lot of time conducting training, community outreach, and various missions around the state.
Prieur surmised that the amount of time the CST spends training with civilian responders contributed to the team’s response to the accident by helping them “speak the same language” and seamlessly integrate with responders as they arrived on scene.
“Each of us knew what to do, and how to do it safely and efficiently,” he said, highlighting the many hours the CST spends together in training or performing missions. “For example, we all knew that Capt. Koshick was the best person, because of her training, to be administering aid to the injured female, so we followed her lead and helped out where we could.”
“Everyone responded safely and quickly just as practiced in drills and covered in movement briefs,” Koshick added. “The team’s past outreach was also evident; many of the agencies that arrived after us were familiar with the CST and there was no time wasted on developing a good working rapport.”
This situation took the National Guard’s motto of “Always Ready, Always There” to the extreme. Schultz attributed the success of their response to the team’s readiness.
“It was a long day and most of us were pretty tired,” Schultz said. “As soon as we pulled up, everyone was on key and ready to do what needed to be done without asking.”
Emergency crews took control of the scene upon their arrival; however, the CST continued to provide aid to the local authorities until the situation was cleared.