CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo North Dakota National Guard Soldiers of the U.S KFOR (Kosovo Forces) contingent trained nearly two years to prepare for a peacekeeping mission here.
Part of that training included certifying or recertifying so-called "combat life-savers" soldiers trained to give basic life-saving support, to other soldiers and civilians.
Soldiers of Valley City-based Alpha Company, 231st Maneuver Task Force, part of Multi-National Task Force-East in Kosovo, had their wits and training tested during a routine patrol in early December, as members of Third Squad of Third Platoon pulled up on the aftermath of a roadside accident near Gnjilane/Gjilan, Kosovo.
A civilian had been struck by a vehicle, and it didn't take long for squad members to react to the situation as they ran to the man to give immediate care.
"I was proud of my squad seeing that, each soldier knew what to do next without being directed and it came as second nature to them," said Sgt. Terry Rishling, Fargo, team leader.
During the action, Sgt. Sam Hemphill, Bismarck, was called back to the truck by Pfc. Jennifer Thome, Aberdeen, S.D., to make a call to the company Tactical Operations Center to give them a report on the situation.
Meanwhile, a crowd of concerned citizens started to build around the scene. Rishling and the squad's linguist helped keep the crowd back, reassuring them the injured man would be given their full attention.
Thome monitored the radio while Hemphill positioned the trucks in a security type position, and returned to the man to get an update on his condition.
Hemphill realized the man was seriously injured, and did not have much time to get to a medical facility. He then made the timely decision to prepare the man for transport to a hospital.
A helpful citizen in the crowd offered his van to transport the injured man to a nearby hospital.
Rishling and Hemphill created a makeshift stretcher out of a riot-control shield, which is required equipment inside their patrol vehicles.
Sgt. Ashley Timian, Fargo, and Spc. Scott Kraft, Strasburg, created an improvised neck brace out of an extreme cold weather undershirt, and created straps with their belts to secure the man to the stretcher.
After the squad loaded him into the van, they followed it to the hospital in Gnjilane/Gjilan, a city of about 130,000 people in southeastern Kosovo.
Hemphill relayed his account of the accident to the Kosovo Police at the hospital. Kosovo Police officers thanked the squad for their efforts.
"Everyone in my squad did their absolute best. All the military training that we have had paid off," Hemphill said. "I couldn't ask for a better squad."
Shortly afterward the squad was instructed to return to base.
"These soldiers embody the true essence of selfless service and duty to not only their fellow Multi-National Task Force-East and NATO soldiers, but also to their mission to ensure safety and security to all people in Kosovo," said Brig. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, commander of Multi-National Task Force-East. "I am very proud of the efforts of these fine soldiers."