KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --
Upon witnessing a horrific car accident occur, weekend plans for two Airmen changed from sight-seeing to life-saving.
Senior Airman Danielle Clemons, 18th Medical Group Medical Services Account cashier, and Airman 1st Class Kaden Petersen, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron structural apprentice, were traveling to the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park April 2.
Upon seeing the accident, they immediately went into action.
“A car went flying by us, moving extremely fast and when we looked up maybe a minute later, we saw it tumbling down the road,” said Clemons. “We pulled over and both jumped out. We noticed another car had been hit so hard it flipped in the other direction and broke off the rear axle. That was when we saw two children lying on the ground.”
After gaining permission from the mother to assist, Clemons and Petersen immediately checked on the children, a boy and a girl. Petersen ensured local citizens could watch over the little girl as he called for an ambulance.
“It was really intense,” said Petersen. “The kids were bleeding and there were still people in the other car, so we got them out. I went to see if the little girl was ok while Clemons checked on the boy. We suspected they might have possible concussions, so we made sure they didn’t fall asleep.”
Clemons treated a bad laceration to the boy’s forehead, lifted his knees and monitored him for shock.
“Since I’m medical, my Common Access Card has a red cross on it, so I was able to show the mother I could provide the medical care needed,” said Clemons. “When I said, ‘hospital,’ she understood and I think it calmed them and helped them realize we were there to help.”
Once the ambulance arrived on the scene, the children were taken to the hospital.
“We couldn’t really exchange words too well, but the mother was really appreciative,” said Clemons. “She told me, ‘thank you,’ in Japanese and I gave her a big hug. I reassured her everything was going to be alright. She gave me a big hug back; it was a nice little moment.”
Petersen said he was drawn to help the little girl partly because she made him think of his niece back home.
“I thought, ‘If that was her, I would be terrified. I would want someone to help her out if I wasn’t there,’” said Petersen. “I just ran to them to try and help however I could. It was one of those things I didn’t expect to go and do, but it was just like second nature for me to respond.”
Both Petersen and Clemons cited second nature as one of the reasons they acted and helped the family. Clemons further commented the Air Force has taught her to always be aware of her surroundings so she can offer help whenever she can be of assistance.
“I feel like we did what any good person would do,” said Clemons. “If you see somebody hurt, it should be your first instinct to go help. It doesn’t matter how young you are or what rank you are; if you’re capable and you’re able, step in and do the right thing.”