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1st Lt. Kelsey Adams, 914 ASTS Physician Assistant, leads team in medical emergency

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kelsey Martinez
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The day started like a typical Tuesday; little did Tech. Sgt. Tremell McAdory know the events that were about to unfold. The only difference that morning was a detour en route to work at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. He woke up to the sound of an alarm, got dressed and ready for work, then hit the road.  Driving his 1988 Chevy Camaro, windows rolled down to compensate for the lack of air conditioning; McAdory plugged his phone in, playing his favorite music to mentally prepare for another day in the office.

So far, it was a great start to the day. Having a lead foot, he had no problem making it through the previous yellow lights. It wasn’t until arriving at the intersection of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Witmer Road that he decided to slow down to a stop. The light had just changed from green to yellow; he could have made it, but something told him to stop. After that moment, everything happened quickly, but it was as if time slowed down in front of his eyes.

The deafening sounds of a head-on car collision rang through the air. As he replayed what happened in his head, the cries of a man screaming for help shocked McAdory, a grounds transportation specialist assigned to the 107th Attack Wing here. It became evident that he had been sideswiped by the 2006 Honda involved in the collision. The crash's impact left red and silver car parts strewn about and glass scattered on the road.

“I could hear a man yelling that we needed to lift up the truck,” said McAdory during a recent interview. “I didn’t fully understand what happened, but the fact that a truck was flipped, I could tell it wasn’t good. I immediately jumped out of my car and ran over to help.”

After several attempts, McAdory and at least three others worked together to rock the truck, creating enough momentum to tip it right side up.

“The man must have been unconscious because when we did this, he was unresponsively hanging halfway out of the driver’s side window,” said McAdory. “As we removed him from the truck, a woman in uniform came out of nowhere to support his neck as we lowered him to the ground.”

1st Lt. Kelsey Adams, a newly appointed physician assistant with the 914th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, was on her way to report for annual tour (AT) duty when she witnessed the 2004 Ford Ranger tip in the collision. She immediately pulled over and ran to the accident, where McAdory and the others assisted the victim.

“As I approached the scene, my first reaction was to stabilize his neck, he had just been in an accident, and my EMT training kicked in,” said Adams. “I noticed he wasn’t breathing, so I felt for a pulse. When there wasn’t one, I instantly turned to the man on my left and instructed him to begin CPR.”

Adams was the only trained medical professional on the scene for the first few minutes. She utilized her years of education, training, experience, and leadership skills to coach others on how to perform chest compressions which eventually stabilized the victim until Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived.

“I remember looking at my watch to get a timeline going; it was 7:23 a.m. when we began CPR,” she said assiduously. “I was coaching people who have probably never done CPR before and hopefully never need to again but did not hesitate once. We performed CPR on this man without any resources – all we had was our bare hands and my knowledge.”

As a civilian, Adams works in a hospital, so she commented that she had never responded to an emergency where there wasn’t a fully qualified medical team with resources, an electrocardiogram (EKG), oxygen, and gloves within reach.

“Everyone on-scene worked together, alternating chest compressions to regain and stabilize the victim’s pulse long enough for him to get the medical attention he needed,” she said. “I’m grateful for the years of training that prepared me with the skills and knowledge to respond in a moment of urgency.”

Within minutes, a woman identified as a doctor arrived on the scene, followed shortly after by another woman identified as an emergency room nurse.

“It was the perfect trifecta of female medical professionals: someone who specializes in the heart, someone who specializes in emergency medicine, and someone who has gone through 10 plus years of medical schooling,” she said. “To have a combination of all that training in an uncontrolled environment all at once was crazy; that man was the luckiest unlucky person to be in an accident.”

Within 10 minutes of providing care, EMS arrived. They hooked the victim to a compression machine, stabilized his pulse, and provided fluids allowing them to transport him to Erie County Medical Center via Mercy Flight for further treatment.

“By the time I left the scene, I noticed that my hands felt sticky and looked down to see they were covered in blood and that it had gotten on my uniform,” she said. “I turned to another airman who had been at the accident and asked if she could call to inform my unit that I would be late but that I was safe.”

Senior Airman Jessica Fink, a combat crew communications specialist with the 914th Operations Group at NFARS, was not involved in the immediate care of the victim but did pull over to help when she saw the severity of the accident and the fact that military members were on the scene. McAdory and Fink praised Adams for what she did and repeatedly reiterated that she left a lasting impression on them that day.

“Witnessing something like that, right in front of you –right in the palm of your hands –it is truly unforgettable,” said McAdory. “Lieutenant Adams calmly took charge of the situation and exuded confidence in her abilities and ours. We are in the military and have a duty to serve, but she went above and beyond, and that is a leader worth emulating.”

Adams said that what she did that day was not just because of her abilities but because a group of exceptional individuals came together with one common goal: to do everything in their power to help a man whose life was in danger.

“From calling 911 to redirecting traffic, assisting in CPR, lending a flashlight, calling supervisors, running a timer, every person there played a role,” she said. “In a team, no role is insignificant, despite what some may think, so putting in 100% effort contributes to the overall mission’s success.”

Adams emphasized that without these individuals contributing in the ways they did, she would not have been able to do what she did that day, and because of this, everyone should be recognized.

“It’s amazing how strangers from different backgrounds came together as a community to do something good for this guy. It was a team effort,” she said. “No matter how big or small, everyone there made a significant difference.”