Living up to their motto

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Connor Estes
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Few things are more heroic than a person who steps up in a crisis and saves the life of a complete stranger. That's exactly what Senior Airman Cody Cerny did recently while training in Alaska, Dec. 16, 2011.

Cerny, a pararescueman with the 56th Rescue Squadron, and several of his teammates went to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to train under artic winter conditions with the Alaskan Air National Guard 212th Rescue Squadron. They were also put on real-world alert status during that time. To Cerny's surprise an actual rescue alert came in as soon as he started his shift on Dec. 16.

"I was in our standard briefing before starting my shift when we got the alert that a utility worker was seriously injured and needed to be rescued," said Cerny. "Not having all the details we quickly got our gear together and were wheels up after about an hour [after] notification."

It wasn't until Cerny and the other pararescuemen had boarded the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that they received the rest of the details on the injured man.

"The only information we had at the time was that a [worker] had fallen down a steep slope, landed on a tree stump [and injured] his chest and ribs," said Cerny. "After getting that information we were going through possible things to consider like rope rescue systems, anchors, hypothermia, and airway respiratory problems that the patient may have."

It was only when Cerny and his team arrived on scene that they knew what needed to be done and the obstacle they faced.

"The challenge was there was no other space to drop us down between the trees so we had to hoist down right next to these power lines," said Cerny.

Using a tag line to prevent the cable from contacting the power lines Cerny was lowered down 50 feet and provided medical treatment to stabilize the patient for recovery. The patient was then hoisted up the slope, transferred to a nearby emergency room and successfully treated for his wounds.

According to Lt. Col. Bradley Dow, 56th RQS commander, the training in Alaska couldn't have been more successful, especially to gain the experience of saving a life in that kind of environment.

"I'm really proud of our guys and this rescue is just another example of their professionalism and work they put into their training," said Dow.

When asked about his thoughts on Cerny's life saving mission, Dow ended with this statement.

"That's what we do and it's our motto: 'That others may live.'"