(CHICAGO, IL) – On May 13, 2015, Sergeant First Class Tony Genovese and Staff Sergeant Reserve Jeremy Adkins watched a car spiral into the air and catch fire at a busy intersection in the South Loop. As combat veterans and active members of the Illinois National Guard, the medical training they learned in the military helped save lives.
“Jeremy shouted, ‘We need to help these people!’” Tony said. “So we jumped out of our car and ran to help. We didn’t know what to expect or how bad it would be.”
When the driver of a Buick tried to pass a Jeep at a high rate of speed, he lost control and hit the vehicle and then the median. Tony and Jeremy watched the Buick roll at least three times before it landed in the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Columbus Drive.
Jeremy first attended to two women in the Jeep who were shaken up, but seemed ok. Moments later, he joined Tony at the Buick, which was in bad shape. The passenger had gotten out and was walking in a daze, while the driver appeared in shock and was struggling and yelling inside the car. Then the driver went unconscious, increasing the severity of an already dangerous situation.
“There was definitely a sense of urgency now as smoke was coming out of the hood and flames started to rise,” Tony said. “We knew there was a small amount of time to get him out.”
Even in an urban environment, Tony and Jeremy were trained for this type of rescue. They were taught while deployed to Afghanistan, when their own convoy was under fire, to get their comrades away from the immediate threat, and then stabilize and treat any injuries.
After failed attempts from both men to kick the window out, Tony found the window rolled down just enough to fit his fingers in, and he pulled the window out, breaking it. This allowed the men to pull the driver away from the burning car and the oil and fluid that saturated the street. They used their hands to brace the driver’s neck until paramedics arrived. The driver survived because of their quick response and first aid.
The two Guardsmen, both from the Chicago area, met while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and remained friends after returning home. Both remain active in the military.
A recruiter for the National Guard, Tony tells candidates to always be ready. “If you’re at the right place, at the right time, then do the right thing,” he said.
The Emergency Medical Assistance Award is by presented by Motorola Solutions Foundation to an individual(s) who provided lifesaving medical assistance a person or people in need during a time of crisis.
The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.
Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois