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Offutt Airmen take action during highway crisis

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

On an early evening in late July, two Airmen assigned to the 55th Comptroller Squadron were headed home from a day at the zoo with their children when they came across a severe vehicle accident and put their life-saving training to use.

“It felt like an involuntary reaction, like pulling your hand away from something hot,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Jennings, a financial services supervisor, as he described when he and Staff Sgt. Victoria Jennings, a financial analyst supervisor, first came upon the rolled over car.

Emergency responders had not yet arrived, so the couple leapt into action. Matthew rushed to the car while Victoria called 911.

“When my husband and I pulled up to the scene of the accident, the immediate response was a couple seconds of shock. It was like my mind couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. Once my mind caught up, my husband and I jumped into action.”

With the help of an off-duty Emergency Medical Technician, Matthew helped the driver away from the vehicle, where Victoria administered first aid. He then went back for the driver’s young daughter who was still hanging upside down in her car seat.

“There was no thinking involved,” Matthew said. “As soon as we noticed the accident there was no conversation about what we should do or if we should lend a hand.”

The couple has more experience in first aid than many. This is in part because of their military careers. Both are trained Self-Aid and Buddy Care, however, Victoria was previously an SABC instructor for two years at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Matthew was also a lifeguard before he began his military career.

After completing first aid, they called the driver’s husband and stayed with the mother and daughter until he and emergency responders had arrived on the scene.

Apart from a few minor injuries the two were in good health.

“Through the whole experience, I was really calm and I knew exactly what I needed to do,” said Victoria. “I was running through scenarios in my head of what I had in my car that I could use as makeshift splints and bandaging if it was needed. I would have pulled the shirt off my own back if I needed to…

“Once everything had calmed down and the adrenaline stopped pumping, I was overcome with emotion. My mind replaced Alex and Maisy with me and my children. What would I do if this was us? Would people come to my aid like they did for Alex?

“This could have been so much worse that it turned out to be. They were extremely lucky.”