By Glenn S. Robertson, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2021
Airman 1st Class Zachary Ravlin poses for a portrait photo within the F.E. Warren Fire Department Nov. 4, 2020 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (U. S. Air Force photo by Glenn S. Robertson)
An airman assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron provided emergency medical support to a victim of a utility terrain vehicle rollover March 22, 2021, in north Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Airman 1st class and F.E. Warren firefighter Zachery Ravlin was driving in north Cheyenne when he noticed Cheyenne Police surrounding what looked to be a vehicle rollover. Without hesitation, he approached the police officers, announced himself as being trained as an emergency medical technician, and asked if he could help before paramedics arrived. Given the greenlight, he jumped into action.
When he assessed the scene, he found a 16-year-old female with her left arm trapped under the rollbar of the vehicle and a considerable amount of blood pooled around her.
There was a second individual, a young female in the vehicle, who seemed to be unhurt. He addressed them both, introduced himself and told them he was there to help. He asked initial questions to get a clearer assessment as to their condition, and realized that the second female had only scrapes and bruising, while the other was clearly seriously injured.
He focused his attention on her, asking her the same questions of whether she was experiencing any pain, weakness or cold. When she responded that she was cold, he gave her friend his coat to place on her to keep her warm. He then asked a police officer for a pair of trauma shears to better assess the condition of her arm.
When he cut the sleeve off her shirt, he immediately realized that she had suffered a compound open fracture and that while it had been bleeding severely after it had been crushed, it was now bleeding very lightly.
He cautioned against removing the vehicle from her arm with those present, as he warned that the released pressure would likely cause further damage.
He performed a circulation motor sensory test at that point to try and ascertain if she had any feeling in her arm. Though the test showed that her CMS was intact, he kept talking to her to check for further injury while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Upon the arrival of the paramedics, which Ravlin estimated at being fewer than ten minutes after he arrived on scene, he gave them a report of what he had done and what he believed the extent of her injuries to be.
While the paramedics performed their assessments, he stayed with the victim, keeping her calm and talking her through what was happening.
He assisted the paramedics as they put a vacuum splint on her arm and prepared the limb for the removal of the vehicle. Upon the removal, where she could see the damaged limb, she began to panic and came close to hyperventilation. Through that, Ravlin held her hand, told her to just look at him and talked to her calmly to keep her as calm as possible.
Shortly after, she was loaded into the ambulance and taken for emergency care – which would eventually include a life flight to Denver.
According to family members of the person he helped, Ravlin’s actions saved her arm, and potentially even her life.
“[Ravlin] quite literally saved her arm and life, according to the doctors,” said her uncle in a message to Ravlin a week after the rollover. “She was life flighted to Denver, and they replaced arteries in her arm, and she is recovering now.”
While many could have kept driving, Ravlin’s actions were in keeping with his character and the Air Force core values.
“A1C Ravlin emulated service before self when he saved a woman and her arm,” said Staff Sgt. Brandin McGovern, Ravlin’s former supervisor. “He continues to show that every day at work by always learning advanced trade craft in rescue and emergency medicine techniques from seasoned veterans at the F.E. Warren Fire Department.”
Although there was an aspect of being in the right place at the right time, it was because of Ravlin’s efforts at ensuring he is qualified to provide emergency medical care that made the difference when he did show up at the scene.
“It was fortunate that Ravlin showed up when he did, as he was qualified and capable to step in and help the girl,” said Joshua Steen, Chief of Fire Prevention for the F.E. Warren Fire Department, whose daughter is a friend of the injured. “But just as important, he is someone we count on every day to do the right thing and help others in need, going above and beyond to ensure he’s a good firefighter and a good EMT.”
Editor’s Note: The narrative of Ravlin’s arrival on scene to the arrival of paramedics is his experience as relayed to the author and attribution for such was cut for brevity and clarity. All aspects of that narrative is attributed to Airman 1st Class Zach Ravlin as his experience.