Yokota Airman applies SABC training to save hiker
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- What was supposed to be a routine hike on Mt. Takao turned out to be a life-saving day for an Airman stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Staff Sgt. Michael Cruikshank, 374th Operations Support Squadron airfield manager, used his Self Aid Buddy Care skills to save a critically injured hiker.
"I saw two hikers unsure of what to do over this man who was in obvious pain," Cruikshank said. "I approached to find him in serious condition."
Cruikshank quickly assessed the hiker who was severely injured in the throat and abdominal region after falling off a steep embankment. Cruikshank quickly applied his training to save the hiker who was bleeding severely, prolonging his life until medical personnel arrived.
SABC consists of life-saving procedures, typically used in combat situations, to initially treat injured personnel until they can receive advanced medical care. All Air Force members are required to complete annual hands-on training.
After Cruikshank administered SABC, he placed his clothing over the shivering man's body. He then applied water on the man's lips to prevent shock and dehydration.
"I had to use my cellphone to communicate with the other people helping," Cruikshank said. "I translated and asked them to tell this man to remain calm, and I reassured him that everything was going to be OK."
When a Japanese rescue team arrived, they were impressed at the level of care Cruikshank had provided.
"What he did to stop the bleeding was correct," said Toru Uchiyama, the chief of the Hachioji Fire Department. "What he has done to save this man is very honorable and worthy of our praise."
Uchiyama continued to explain the difficulty of rescuing someone in Mt. Takao.
"Mt. Takao isn't very tall, but it has steep falls. You may fall down as far as 50 meters," Uchiyama explained. "In some cases, the rescuers can turn into the rescued if they aren't careful."
"In the Air Force, we teach these skills to save comrades. Most people get scared when they face an emergency, but this young man took the initiative to save a complete stranger's life," said Lt. Col. James Hackbarth, 374th OSS commander. "He demonstrated the highest level of integrity to do the right thing and showed his courage."
According to Uchiyama, the hiker is doing well and is recovering.
"I'm glad to know that he is safe and that I could help," Cruikshank said. "I would like to pass this experience down to younger Airmen in hopes of saving more lives in the future."