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Reserve training aids accident response

Airman stands in front of C-130

Senior Airman Tou Twsj Andrew Cha, 302nd Maintenance Squadron munition maintenance technician, poses in front of a C-130 Hercules assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing, June 5, 2021, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Over the 2021 Memorial Day weekend, Cha witnessed and responded to a traffic accident by tapping into his military training, for example Self Aid Buddy Care, extracting the driver from the truck, determining the driver’s needs and relaying the information to the first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Lundberg)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

While encountering heavy rains over Memorial Day weekend in Colorado, Senior Airman Tou Twsj Andrew Cha was driving on U.S. Highway 36 between Boulder and Broomfield when a truck in front of him hydroplaned, flipped and landed upside down.

“I didn’t see too much at first because there was heavy rain and mist on the highway while cars were just zooming by,” said Cha, a 302nd Maintenance Squadron munition maintenance technician. “When it happened it just looked like a toy car flipping, effortlessly flipping.”

Cha, not hesitating, pulled over behind the truck, blocking the side of the highway and turned on his hazard lights to make sure traffic would go around him and away from the accident. Then he assessed the scene.

“I stood there looking at the accident and my initial thought was ‘okay, what is going on? Is there anything potentially hazardous that’s going to happen, like fire or anything the pickup truck was carrying?’ So I looked at it, saw some steam or smoke then I saw two feet rolling in the cab.” 

Cha attempted to open the door of the cab only to find it jammed, forcing him to use his body weight to open it. As he was helping the person out of the truck he asked if he was okay and confirmed someone had called emergency responders. Then when they arrived he reported what happened.

“Initially, I was a little shocked but at the same time a lot of people play scenarios in their head especially with (Self Aid Buddy Care) training you never know what you’re going to get into,” said Cha. “It all just clicked and I ended up falling back to my training making sure the scene was safe, make sure nothing was hazardous, check the individual, try to help the individual and provide any first aid.”

Getting back to his car after the accident, he reflected on his training he had received from the 302nd Airlift Wing.

“I’m grateful that I had people who trained me to know what to fall back on because I don’t think I would have done well without it,” Cha said. “It’s like what my flight chief always says, ‘you always fall back to your level of training.’”