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Air Force Medical Officer's Quick Thinking Saves Life at Accident

Image of Profile image of a woman. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anne Staley’s quick thinking and experience as a trauma nurse helped save a car crash victim‘s life. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anne Staley)

On Sept. 7, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anne (Staci) Staley, the officer in charge of the Military Training Network, a division of the Defense Health Agency Education and Training Directorate, was on her way to a medical appointment at a local San Antonio, Texas, hospital, when she heard a loud explosion on a nearby highway.

As she turned into the hospital parking lot, a car exited the highway and rolled down an embankment. When the car stopped rolling, the driver was thrown through the windshield into the middle of the road and struck by a truck passing at the same moment.

Staley jumped into action taking charge of the scene, directing people for help, and providing critical medical care until paramedics arrived.

“I grabbed my gloves and CPR facemask, jumped out and rushed to the woman,” said Staley, who has served as a trauma nurse during her 20 years of service. “I told a man to call 911 and another to run to the medical facility and get an AED and emergency medical supplies.” Staley began life-saving resuscitation to the victim.

Then, Staley noticed a car seat in the backseat and directed two bystanders to look for a baby. Fortunately, the victim was driving alone. As medical personnel arrived from the hospital with emergency equipment, she continued to assess the victim’s life-threatening injuries and treat them as needed.

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics soon arrived. Staley gave a quick report of the accident and life-saving steps taken. Paramedics quickly loaded the victim into the ambulance and left for the hospital.

“I gave a report to the police, and then went to my appointment, returning to the scene afterwards,” Staley added. “The officer said the woman was transported to a nearby trauma center. She was in critical condition, but stable and alive because of me. I was so grateful, it brought me to tears.”

But Staley may not have been so fortuitously on the scene of the accident. She had left the house on time for what she thought was her scheduled appointment. On the way, she learned that her tire was losing air pressure. As she stopped to have her tire repaired, she found out that her appointment had been postponed. If she had known her appointment had been changed before she’d left the house, she would not have been at the scene to help the accident victim.

“The cumulative delays and rescheduling placed me at the exact time and place to save this woman’s life," Staley said. “I know that I was supposed to be there for her at that specific place and time. That is the grace of God.”

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Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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