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Oct 31, 2013 7:24 PM by Nathan O'Neal

D-M Airmen turned rescuers at deadly I-10 pileup

ELOY, Ariz. - Eight Airmen from the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base were the first to provide care to victims of a 21-car pileup near Picacho Peak Tuesday.

According to a spokesperson for Davis-Monthan AFB, the Airmen were traveling past the scene and decided to stop and help.

"We didn't exactly know how big the crash site was because how bad the dust was - visibility as pretty poor," said Tyler, a pararescuer.

"We were driving down Frontage Road when we saw the pile-up," said Caleb, 48th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer. "We noticed that there were police on either end, but no emergency medical services or rescue at the crash site."

The Airmen credit their training and experience as a way to cope and remain calm in a chaotic setting.

For Wes, who just completed his training, this was his first real-world experience.

"It was the worst accident I've ever seen in my life. There were so many 18-wheelers... cars just crumpled up in between... it was terrible," Wes told News 4 Tucson.

The Airmen administered medical aid to more than 20 people injured in the crash that took place on October 29. Along with rescuing 5 people from vehicles, they also coordinated four medical helicopter flights and organized ground transportation for other injured individuals.

However, the Airmen had to work with what was available, cutting through fences to get to the crash site and giving much-needed care to victims - some of whom were trapped in their crushed cars.

"We had very limited resources so in this case, we did a lot of improvisation," said Dave, who has served on the Air Force fo 23 years. "We grabbed pipes off the side of the road to use as pry bars... at one point we used a cardboard box as a splint."

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