On Friday, November 17th, Sgt. Corey Engard, who serves as the recruiting station commander for the U.S. Army recruitment center in Meridian, had a very eventful lunch hour.
Engard left Meridian to attend a “going away celebration” in Hattiesburg. While on the road, he encountered a vehicle that had crashed into a guardrail. The driver later reported that he had been driving on the interstate when he received a weather alert on his cell phone and looked down to check it. By the time he looked up again, he had already veered off the road and was unable to correct course in time before colliding with the guardrail at 70 mph. The force of the crash drove the dash and steering wheel into the driver’s lap, breaking one leg and completely severing the other one from his body.
Engard arrived on the scene moments later. “I saw that somebody needed help and I could tell that it had just happened,” Engard recalled.
A few other motorists had stopped to provide assistance and were trying to get the driver out of the vehicle when Engard arrived. Once the driver was freed from the vehicle, the other motorists were stunned to see that his leg had been amputated by the crash but Engard knew what to do.
He removed his belt and used it as a tourniquet clamping down above the injured man’s knee. He asked the others there if anyone had called 911. They hadn’t.
He called 911 himself but was unable to tell them how to get to the location. Engard, an Oregon native, had just moved to Mississippi a few months earlier so he asked emergency services if they could “ping” his phone and find his location from his phone’s data. They could and were able to dispatch an ambulance.
Engard stayed on the scene where he sourced a better tourniquet from another motorist and reapplied pressure to the injured man’s limb. He also tried to keep the man calm during the ordeal. “I talked him through the pain. Told him to just put your mind in another place. I gave him my hand to squeeze but he didn’t want to break it so I got a soda bottle for him to squeeze,” he said. While they waited, he also kept track of the time in case the man lost consciousness and the first responders needed to know how long he had been unresponsive.
Twenty minutes later, the ambulance arrived. Engard applied a third tourniquet provided by the EMTs and helped them get the man into the ambulance. At first, they had considered calling in a helicopter to air lift him to a hospital but decided against it when they were advised that the helicopter would take another 40 minutes or so to arrive.
Once the man was securely in the ambulance and on the way to the hospital, Engard got back on the road to attend the luncheon.
The next day, Engard checked on the man to see how he was doing. Although the man had lost 4 pints of blood, he had survived the ordeal and was on the road to making an (almost) complete recovery. The human body contains 8-10 pints of blood and losing 4 or 5 pints can be fatal. It was Engard’s calm demeanor and quick action in applying and reapplying tourniquets that saved the man’s life.
The man’s mother called to thank Engard telling him that he was an angel and had saved her son’s life. Engard has continued to keep in touch with the man whose life he saved, even exchanging Christmas presents with him. “I’m thankful he’s okay,” Engard said. “He’s very enthusiastic and optimistic and he gets his prosthetic this week.” It is expected that once the prosthetic is received, he will be walking again soon.
On January 24, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee presented Engard with a commendation to thank him for his service to his country and his fellow man. “We want to commend you,” Mayor Magee said. “Thank you for your service and for going above your service.”
Lt. Colonel Adam Marsh, Captain Tyler Smith, 1st Sgt. Ryan French, Command Sgt. Major Jeremy Barbaresi, and Jesse Greenhill Station Commander for the U.S. Army Recruitment center in Laurel, joined Engard on Wednesday as he received his commendation from Mayor Magee.
Lt. Col Marsh further commended Engard for his quick actions and for putting his valuable training to good use. Marsh stated that for people who want to develop the skills and training that Engard used to save a life, the U.S. Army is a great career option. The U.S. Army is currently recruiting for service men and women and offers many benefits and generous sign-on bonuses.