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Team Andrews ceremonial guardsmen respond to car crash, help save lives

Staff Sgt. Kody Whiteside, 779th Medical Operations Squadron medical 
technician; Senior Airman Sean Smith, 11th Security Forces Squadron elite gate 
guard member; Airman 1st Class Gil E. Gonzolez, 779th Dental Squadron dental 
technician; Senior Airman Antonio Hernandez, 779 MDOS cardiopulmonary 
technician; Senior Airman Marcus Mendez, 779th Surgical Operations Squadron 
radiology technician; and Senior Airman Danielle Robles, 779 MDOS aerospace 
medical technician.  These members of the Andrews Base Honor Guard were the 
first to respond to a single-vehicle accident while driving home from an Honor 
Guard ceremony Aug. 10, 2012. (U.S. AIr Force photo/Staff Sgt. Torey Griffith)

Staff Sgt. Kody Whiteside, 779th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician; Senior Airman Sean Smith, 11th Security Forces Squadron elite gate guard member; Airman 1st Class Gil E. Gonzolez, 779th Dental Squadron dental technician; Senior Airman Antonio Hernandez, 779 MDOS cardiopulmonary technician; Senior Airman Marcus Mendez, 779th Surgical Operations Squadron radiology technician; and Senior Airman Danielle Robles, 779 MDOS aerospace medical technician. These members of the Andrews Base Honor Guard were the first to respond to a single-vehicle accident while driving home from an Honor Guard ceremony Aug. 10, 2012. (U.S. AIr Force photo/Staff Sgt. Torey Griffith)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Their job that day was to provide final honors on behalf of a grateful nation for a retired master sergeant who had come to the end of his life journey in West Virginia.

While on their journey home from the funeral, however, six-members of the Andrews Base Honor Guard used their skills to preserve the lives of two women Aug. 10, 2012.

Those two women were severely injured when the driver lost control of the SUV they were in during a rainstorm on highway 68.

Witnesses said the SUV flipped four times before crashing into a guardrail, where it came to rest.

The Honor Guard team, who narrowly escaped being involved in the accident, knew what to do. Four of the Airmen worked in various medical fields at the Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic here.

"Without hesitation, we rushed to the scene and administered life-saving techniques we learned in the Air Force's Self Aide and Buddy Care training," said Senior Airman Gil Gonzalez, 779th Dental Squadron dental technician.

Gonzalez and Senior Airman Marcus Mendez, 779th Surgical Operations Squadron radiology technician, forced the rear side door open to get to the passenger and Senior Airman Danielle Robles, 779 MDOS aerospace medical technician, administered first aid. They were able to control bleeding and clean minor wounds while awaiting an ambulance.

Staff Sgt. Kody Whiteside, 779th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician; Senior Airman Rodolfo Hernandez, 779th MDOS cardiopulmonary technician; and Senior Airman Sean Smith, 11th Security Forces Squadron elite gate guard member, forced the driver's side door open to reach the driver.

Mendez stabilized the driver's spine while Whiteside and Hernandez stopped bleeding using a medical kit another driver happened to have.

While local police and EMS were en-route, Smith put his police skills to work and directed traffic around the accident to prevent a multi-car pileup.

The situation could have been very different had the Team Andrews members not been there to put their life-saving skills to work.

"It's always a wonderful feeling when you know you've just saved someone's life or improved their chance for recovery," said Whiteside. "No matter how many times it happens, the feeling never gets old."

"We are extremely proud of these service members. They stepped up and put their training to work providing immediate care and controlling the scene to prevent further injuries," said Maj. Gen. Gerard Caron, 79th Medical Wing commander. "Our Airmen are great care givers who are ready to meet the needs of our patients. And when it counts, they know what to do and how to provide world class health care."