Hero honored by American Red Cross

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By Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published June 24, 2014

Staff Sgt. Craig Petersen poses with his son and daughter after the American Red Cross Hometown Hero Awards ceremony June 19, 2014, in Boise, Idaho. Petersen was honored for treating the wounds of a car crash victim until authorities arrived to the scene. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott)


Staff Sgt. Craig Petersen, a 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, was awarded the Military Hero Award by the American Red Cross June 19, in Boise, Idaho.

On his way to victim advocate training, Petersen responded to a truck collision with a car on the highway.

Petersen pulled over to the accident and immediately checked on the truck driver and then the driver of the car.

"My military training helped me to identify hazards," Petersen said. "Once I got there, I was able to establish the priorities."

He first pulled a young child out the car, which was leaking fuel, before attending to the driver.

"The only thing going through my mind was the safety of the victims in the accident," he said. "I wasn't one bit concerned about the gasoline or fire hazard. I firmly believe nothing is more valuable than a human life and that was my number one priority. I was shocked to see that nobody else stepped in to help the victims. They survived and lived on, and I got to put my training to the test and see firsthand that it truly works."

Petersen's actions bring to question what others might do in a similar situation.

"My initial thought was 'Wow what would I have done?,'" said Master Sgt. Frank Espinoza, the 366th AMS weapons chief. "Then realizing the reason he was late was not because of the accident itself but the fact that he had to go home and change because his uniform was saturated with blood."

Petersen stayed with the driver attending to his wounds and assured him his child was safe.

"This is a good example how to apply training to a combat situation or in the civilian sector without thinking about it," Espinoza said.

"I waited eight minutes, applying pressure to the victim's wounds until paramedics arrived," Petersen said. "His injuries seemed significant. I couldn't see the victim's legs due to the driver door practically touching the center console. His face had multiple cuts and lacerations all over due to debris and the airbag."

Petersen is a living example of the Air Force core values: integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.

"It just amazed me that he went into that car that (was) leaking fuel and the car was still running," Espinoza said. "He truly puts others needs above himself and that is something that I feel so proud about. It really highlights our Air Force and the kind of people we are."

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