North Carolina Air Guardsman Recognized for Life-saving Action
By Master Sgt. Steve Wilkins, 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 16, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A North Carolina Air National Guardsman was recognized recently for his recent heroic effort to help a car accident victim. Master Sgt. Robert C. Ritchie of the 118 Air Support Operations Squadron received the Red Cross' Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action April 14. The award recognized Ritchie's efforts to help a woman who had been pinned against a wall by a misguided vehicle in late February of this year.
The victim, Coan Link's femur had been split by the vehicle impact and severed her artery. Ritchie rushed to the scene and removed his belt to control the bleeding from her leg until paramedics arrived on the scene.
Ritchie, a combat lifesaver-trained airman attributes the Guard's continuous training and indoctrination to maintain vigilant situational awareness for his swift reaction to the accident.
Link said in a recent Facebook post, "I was bleeding so much that if he hadn't done that I would have bled out before the ambulance got there." Red Cross spokesperson Katie Meier said that the award is given to just a few individuals each year.
"I'm lucky I lived and even got to keep my leg," Link said of the ordeal, referring to initial official medical counsel she received.
According to Col. Stephen Mallette, Ritchie's commander at the 118 ASOS, "The Guard trains its members to be ready whenever called. Sgt. Ritchie's quick thinking and swift action have demonstrated why the National Guard is called upon to assist in domestic crises as well as international conflict. I am proud that his instinctive effort helped to save a life where we live and work."
Ritchie said of the incident, "I believe that God happened to put me in the right place to do the right thing at the right time."
The Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action is one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals, according to Tim Patton, the Red Cross representative on hand to make the presentation. Patton added that Ritchie's actions to save a life exemplified the aims of the Red Cross.