By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Berenguer
SAN DIEGO (July 7, 2009) - Hospital Corpsmen have been saving lives in hospitals, triages, on ships and on the battlefields dating back to the Revolutionary War. Their training gives them the ability to help those in need of medical treatment wherever that may be. Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Gabriel D. Martinez recently received a Navy Commendation Medal due to his actions taken while on leave in Texas that resulted in saving the life of a man in an automobile accident. According to Martinez, he pulled off to the side of the road to allow a highway patrol vehicle to pass when he witnessed the accident. He watched the truck and trailer flip through the air and come crashing to the ground. The vehicle continued to flip until it came to a screeching halt not far from where Martinez parked. He got out of his vehicle and started to run toward the accident. “The crash actually took place while I was making a traffic stop with another vehicle. I looked up and saw a pickup truck that had been pulling a stock trailer. The pickup was on its roof, badly damaged and the stock trailer was on its side with its heifer standing in the center median,” said Trooper John Moorman of the Texas Highway Patrol, during a phone interview. Moorman noticed Martinez’s Emergency Medical Specialist (EMS) shirt and asked him to help with the injured man trapped inside the mangled vehicle. “I cannot begin to express the relief I felt when I learned I had a Navy [Hospital] Corpsman there to help the driver,” said Moorman. “I spent 20 years in the Navy before becoming a highway patrolman so I knew the kind of training and expertise HM2 [Martinez] had. The fact that he stopped to assist was amazing. In a day and age when people usually drive by and stare at the crash I am so thankful he stopped.” Martinez and Moorman peeled the door back to assist the man trapped in the vehicle. After assessing the victim, Martinez diligently worked to stop the bleeding from the victims severed arm. Moorman assisted by bringing towels and an ice chest for the severed limb. “I saw blood everywhere. I quickly gathered myself and did what I have been trained to do. I dressed his amputation and applied a tourniquet,” said Martinez. Martinez then assessed the patient for further injuries and stabilized him. “I did what I was trained to do, and then proceeded to wait for the ambulance to arrive. As a hospital corpsman, the Navy has trained us extensively for these types of casualty situations,” said Martinez. Hospital corpsmen are trained to handle various casualties according to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class William Gordon, NMCSD’s General Surgery Department Leading Petty Officer and Martinez’ supervisor. “I am extremely proud of him. He is a fine example of how well the Navy trains us to react in any situation. I am not surprised one bit that HM2 [Martinez] did exactly what he was supposed to. With the right information, training and applications, there is nothing that we can't do as hospital corpsman. [HM2] Martinez has a big heart and will help anybody in need and he has the tendency to always be in the right place at the right time. He is a great Sailor, civilian, husband, father and friend,” said Gordon. Martinez stayed at the scene until the patient was safely in the ambulance. Martinez had even taken the time to recover a cow that escaped from the driver’s destroyed livestock trailer. “Without HM2 [Martinez], I believe the man’s life was in serious peril. His injuries were severe enough that without competent medical attention he probably wouldn't be here today. HM2 [Martinez] was right there doing what needed to be done. I was able to step back and let him do the work he was trained to do,” said Moorman. By getting the driver out of the vehicle and stopping the bleeding Martinez was credited with saving valuable time needed by law enforcement and EMS personnel to get the driver evacuated and contributed to saving the man’s life. Martinez has been in the Navy for nine years and previously served at Camp Pendleton and on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). Martinez also deployed to Kuwait for seven months.