U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brandon LaValla and Airman 1st Class Brandon Franklin, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services firefighters, pose for a photo at Spandahlem Air Base, Germany, July 24, 2020. LaValla and Franklin demonstrated their capabilities by saving a victim from a distressed vehicle on their way home from training and ensured the safety of the victim and bystanders. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melody W. Howley
The 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight go through extensive training day in and day out to ensure Spangdahlem Air Base and host nation emergencies are taken care of and everyone is safe.
When real-life emergencies arise, the 52nd CES FES Airmen are ready to assist and save those in need.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brandon LaValla and Airman 1st Class Brandon Franklin, 52nd CES firefighters, helped render first aid to the driver of a semi-tractor-trailer truck who sustained injuries from a vehicle accident while host nation first responders were on the way.
Lavalla and Franklin were off duty and driving home from Silver Flag, a training requirement for 52nd FES flight to ensure their deployment readiness.
“We were on our way home from dinner and noticed everyone was stomping on their brakes,” said LaValla. “We noticed everyone on top of a ditch looking down, and that is when we saw a man in a tipped-over vehicle.
LaValla and Franklin saw bystanders putting a tree branch into the cracked window of the vehicle, an effort to pry the windshield open to save the victim.
“We noticed there was gas leaking out of the victim’s vehicle and knew we needed to get him out of there,” said Franklin. “We were very lucky, we noticed there was a sunroof that was cracked open, so we popped it completely open and got him out.”
After getting the victim out of the vehicle, LaValla said they assessed him for injuries.
“He was pretty scratched up,” said LaValla. “Right after we assessed him, host nation first responders arrived on scene.”
LaValla and Franklin knew what to do in this real-life situation due to the training they receive.
“We go through a specific training called vehicle extrication,” said LaValla. “When we saw the accident, we knew the steps to take to keep bystanders away from the leaking gasoline. We did as much as we could until first responders showed up.”
Their supervisors, Staff Sgt. Matthew Pinnetti and Staff Sgt. William Johnson, 52nd CES FES firefighters, said they could not be prouder of their Airmen and their actions during that day.
“Franklin exemplifies what it means to be an Airman on and off duty,” said Johnson. “He would do anything at a moment’s notice for anyone in need.”
“LaValla is an exceptional Airman and always takes that next step to ensure he is more proficient at his job,” said Pinnetti. “We are lucky to have him in our department and in the Air Force as a whole.”
Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.
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