by Ricky J. Baptista
65th Air Base Group Public Affairs
LAJES FIELD, AZORES – Partnership is a fundamental pillar for the men and women stationed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. Team Lajes consists of United States active duty military, civilian, Portuguese local nationals and host nation military, Portuguese air force professionals. Through combined operations the 65th Air Base Group provides a power projection platform for U.S., allied aircraft and operations. Yet, there are situations where our partnership breaks the boundaries of the flight line.
While conducting a routine security patrol around the installation on July 3, two U.S. Air Force Security Forces team members identified a Portuguese farmer trapped under an overturned tractor in an adjacent field. Technical Sergeants Alauna Pruitt and Kartez Hood, assigned to the 65th Air Base Squadron, quickly assessed the situation and determined that the trapped man was in desperate need of assistance. There were visible lacerations on the head and possible lower extremity injuries that needed attention.
Their first action was to report the incident to the Lajes Field Base Defense Operations Center by radio, who would in turn notify the local authorities, specifically the Portuguese Security Police and Emergency Medical Services. Awaiting the arrival of PSP and EMS, Tech. Sgt. Hood utilized his Self-Aid Buddy Care training, helped stabilize the individual and rendered first responder assistance. As Tech. Sgt. Hood was providing assistance to the injured farmer, Tech. Sgt. Pruitt remained vigilant and continued to assess the local area to ensure a safe and controlled environment.
“Tech. Sgt. Pruitt and I were lucky to be going on our patrol at approximately the same time the incident occurred. As a security forces member working with our host nation, it has been a truly enjoyable experience, and having the opportunity to save someone from serious injury is one of the best feelings I have had during my assignment at Lajes Field,” said Hood.
Tech. Sgt. Pruitt noticed a farmer in a neighboring field operating a similar tractor and alerted him to the situation. While communicating in two different languages can be cumbersome, Tech. Sgt. Pruitt and the farmer were able to recognize the seriousness of the situation and utilized the other farmer’s tractor to lift the overturned tractor so that Tech. Sgt. Hood could free the victim. Hood and Pruitt continued monitoring the farmer until arrival of local authorities could ensure his safety.
“I am thankful to God for putting me at the right place at the right time to help this individual,” said Pruitt.
Tech. Sgt. Pruitt and Tech. Sgt. Hood showed exceptional professionalism and the ability to remain calm in an emergency situation. Their training as USAF Security Forces members allowed them to quickly assess the situation and provide safe and effective assistance while mitigating further suffering to the farmer. As ambassadors to our allied host nation these Airmen exemplified the partnership between the U.S. and Portugal.