JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Airman 1st Class Colten Connelly joined the Air Force Reserve to better himself and inspire his fiancé, also an airman, and their future children.
While attending the police academy in his hometown of Provo, Utah, Connelly received orders to Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. So, putting his law enforcement career on hold, Connelly completed BMT and began training as a medical technician at the Medical Education and Training Campus, or METC, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
But as a student in the Aerospace Medical Service Apprentice, or AMSA, program at METC, Connelly didn’t expect to use his newly acquired medical skills in a real-life situation so soon.
Connelly was returning from a weekend pass April 28, when he came across a rear-end vehicle accident involving three people.
“It seemed like the accident happened just before we arrived, but not many people made the decision to stop and help,” Connelly said. “My fiancé is a med tech already and she was with me. Making the decision to help is just what anyone should do.”
Connelly immediately pulled over on a very busy highway to render aid. He quickly introduced himself to an off-duty firefighter already on scene and asked if he could assist. Connelly was instructed to hold the cervical spine, or c-spine, for the driver of the vehicle. His fiancé also helped by assisting the other victims.
Recalling the training he received during the emergency medical technician portion of the AMSA program, Connelly checked the patient’s pulse, noted that she had snoring respirations, was responsive to verbal stimuli, and continued to maintain the c-spine. Once emergency medical services arrived on scene, Connelly gave his medical report and transferred care of the patients.
Although Connelly was deeply concerned for one of the victims who was badly injured, he also felt that he helped make a difference.
“I feel like we lessened the work load on the arriving EMS by providing all of the baseline vitals and holding the c-spine until they could take over,” Connelly said.
Maj. Brenda Miazga, AMSA flight commander and interim department chair, pointed out that Connelly’s actions and character are what the Air Force require in our Airmen.
“A1C Connelly's selfless act helped others in need. As stated in the Airman's Creed, ‘He answered his nation's call’ by springing into action, without hesitation, to come to the aid of strangers who required rescuing and in need of his medical skills.”
Miazga also noted that “A1C Connelly upheld and fostered all three Air Force Core Values. I am very proud of him and of the AMSA instructors who teach our future medical technicians.”
Unfortunately, one of the victims succumbed to their injuries. But Connelly is thankful that his training enabled him to help.
“I feel that being able to respond quickly definitely made a difference in the outcome of the other accident victims,” he said. “This experience only reinforced my decision to become a med tech.”