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Guardsman acts quickly after crash

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Codey Ratliff, an aerospace ground equipment specialist of the Maintenance Squadron and an augmentee of the Security Forces Squadron at the 121st Air Refueling Wing, is recognized at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, July 13, 2020. While off-duty, Ratliff witnessed a vehicle accident and used his training from the Guard and the police academy to quickly respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Gibbs)

U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Codey Ratliff, an aerospace ground equipment specialist of the Maintenance Squadron and an augmentee of the Security Forces Squadron at the 121st Air Refueling Wing, is recognized at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, July 13, 2020. While off-duty, Ratliff witnessed a vehicle accident and used his training from the Guard and the police academy to quickly respond. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Gibbs)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Staff Sgt. Codey Ratliff, a member of the Ohio Air National Guard, recently witnessed a car accident and used his knowledge and training to respond to the situation.

Ratliff, who is an augmentee of the Security Forces Squadron and traditional member of the Maintenance Squadron at the 121st Air Refueling Wing, was driving on a highway when an oncoming car drove over the median and crossed the road into oncoming traffic. The tie-rod of the woman’s vehicle broke, causing her to stop just before hitting Ratliff head-on, he said.

Ratliff approached the vehicle to check on the driver. The woman was conscious but unresponsive and would not open the door, he said. Based on her appearance and noticing the bandages on her fingers, he guessed that she must be in diabetic shock.

Ratliff knew the symptoms of diabetic shock through his prior experience as a police officer and because his grandfather was diabetic, he said.

“I had seen it before on other crashes, so I knew what it usually looked like,” he said.

When a passerby stopped to see if any help was needed, Ratliff asked him to call 911, he said.

While continuing to try to get the woman’s attention, Ratliff directed traffic around the crashed vehicle, as it was blocking part of a lane, he said.

He was worried that another vehicle would hit her, and he considered breaking a window to get her out safely.

The county sheriff and EMS arrived at the crash and got the woman safely out of her vehicle. They confirmed that she was in diabetic shock, he said.

“When I first saw her unresponsive, I immediately feared the worst,” he said. “When I found out she was okay, I was able to relax.”

While emergency responders provided care to the woman, Ratliff continued to direct traffic, he said. He was glad that he had experience and training through both the Guard and the police academy to respond in a situation like this.

“I always feel prepared for something like this,” he said. “And I learned the basics from the Guard.”

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