Coast Guard Crew Honored for Rescuing Couple from Burning Car

MIAMI – Eight U.S. Coast Guardsmen assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Oak will receive awards for heroic actions from David W. Kunkel, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, during a ceremony scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Monday, at the Coast Guard’s Miami Beach Base, 100 MacArthur Causeway, Miami Beach, Fla.

The eight Oak crewmembers are being recognized for their daring and dramatic rescue of an elderly couple from a burning vehicle following a fatal, motor-vehicle accident on Interstate 95 near Manning, S.C., Aug. 20, 2006.

The eight crewmembers had just started traveling to the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Md., to meet the Oak for a haul-out period when two teenagers in a Ford Mustang careened out of control across the median and collided with a Dodge Caravan that was traveling in front of their government vehicle. The Mustang exploded upon impact and engulfed the front of the Caravan as the Coast Guardsmen pulled over to assist. The eight crewmembers dedicated their efforts to the couple trapped in the Caravan since the Mustang was too hot to approach.

Petty Officer 1st Class Slade dialed 911 and then approached the burning Caravan. All four doors had been sealed shut by the impact of the accident. Three of Slade’s shipmates broke several of the van’s windows before the doors could be pried open far enough to pull the couple out. Slade, a certified Emergency Medical Technician, quickly assessed the medical condition of both victims finding one woman with no pulse and not breathing.

Slade and a nurse on the scene quickly began Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and successfully resuscitated the woman. Fearing the van could explode, Slade directed fellow rescuers to move the woman farther away from the burning vehicles. When the ambulance and emergency services arrived, Slade continued to assist with rescue efforts, monitoring the woman’s vital signs and taking over CPR when necessary. Slade served as a critical part of the EMT team, and did not leave the woman’s side until she was airlifted from the accident site.

“Petty Officer Slade and the seven other crewmembers from the Oak are an excellent example of the courage and moral fiber our Coast Guardsmen are made of,” said Rear Adm. Kunkel. “Their dedication to our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty bring great credit upon the Coast Guard.”

The Cutter Oak is a 225-foot, sea-going buoy tender homeported in Charleston, S.C.

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