It was shaping up as a routine November day for the recruiters at Paradise Valley Recruiting Station, when a loud and violent boom reverberated through the office. Staff Sgt. Andrei Priimak faced the window.
“I looked and saw smoke rising and a huge cloud of dust,” he said. “I realized it was a car wreck, so I stood up and saw the two cars immobilized. I ran out of the office and told the others to come with me.”
Priimak quickly surveyed the dire situation and saw one of the drivers staggering from her vehicle.
“(She) didn’t appear to be injured,” Priimak said. “The lady who had caused the accident was still stuck in her car, so we opened the door and…I asked if she was hurt and saw the blood pouring from a wound on her head.”
The woman’s foot was also stuck on the gas pedal, causing the running engine to roar over the chaos. Priimak reached in and turned the car off.
Other recruiters helped him pull the woman from the car. They opened a first-aid kit for her head. Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Davis, Paradise Valley station commander, was among those helping.
“We started treating her and got her out on the sidewalk when we realized she had no further injuries. A couple of nurses happened to be there and started helping us out. We did everything we could and waited for the paramedics to show up,” Davis said. “She was bleeding a lot and looked like she might have a possible concussion. We got into the bag, got some combat gauze on the wound and started wrapping it up.”
Emergency medical technicians and other relief soon arrived. The recruiters relayed key information about the accident and victim status. They soon realized the outcome of the accident could have been far worse.
“It was a fairly bad scene,” Davis said. “It turned out the young girl was epileptic and may have suffered a seizure, causing her to jump the median and collide with the other car at around 45 miles per hour. The passenger side on her car was completely caved in. It was a hard hit. If anyone had been sitting on that side, they wouldn’t have made it.”
Staff Sgt. Zachary Ziolko, one of Priimak’s fellow recruiters, said he had never faced an incident like this, despite his deployment experiences.
“I joked with my friends about how I’ve been in combat, been shot at, but never had to give first aid,” Ziolko said. “The last place I expected to do was at a recruiting station. I’m glad I was able to help the victim and apply a pressure dressing.”
Staff Sgt. Nathan Kimberly, also a recruiter assigned to the station, praised his Army training as crucial to attending to the victim.
“The door was mangled, so we had to pry it open. The victim started screaming when Priimak tried to get her out. I think we thought she was hurt a lot worse, but we all carried her to the sidewalk,” Kimberley said. “It was just a natural reaction on our part. If I didn’t have first-aid training from the Army, I wouldn’t have been able to assist the way I did. This was the first time I’ve ever been in a situation like this.”
The recruiters later learned their Army training and decisive actions were an immense help to the first responders who arrived to take over. Davis said the actions of his recruiters were in keeping with the highest of Army values.
“I’m so proud of my guys, I love everything about what they did. The longer you stay in the Army, the bigger chance you may run into something like this during your career,” Davis said. “Having that prior training and knowing what to do in a high stress situation, made this really smooth for us. I couldn’t be prouder and this is proof that training pays off.”