AFTAC Airman honored with Valor Award for life-saving actions
By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs
/ Published September 27, 2017
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An act of courage and bravery led to an Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here earning the 2017 Valor Award and Life Saving Medal from the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida.
Senior Airman Jennifer Engblom, a nuclear debris collection and analysis ground systems technician with AFTAC’s Technical Surveillance Squadron, received the award for her actions in November 2016 when she responded to an automobile accident that involved three vehicles and five severely injured occupants.
Engblom and a co-worker were traveling on the Florida Turnpike on a Sunday evening last fall when they came upon the multi-car wreck. Engblom saw one of the vehicles had caught fire, yet she didn’t see any first responders on scene, so she urged her co-worker to pull over so they could render assistance.
Acting quickly, Engblom took charge of the scene. She treated one occupant for shock while guiding other bystanders in emergency lifesaving procedures. She calmed and reassured the victims and examined each injured person to ensure their immediate medical needs were being met.
As one vehicle became engulfed in raging flames, Engblom realized the injured passengers as well as those rendering assistance were in grave danger of a potential explosion. With a clear head, she directed a bystander to move her SUV between an immobile victim and the flaming car, creating a blast shield between the fiery automobile and the injured passenger on the ground.
After about 30 minutes, paramedics arrived, but Engblom wasn’t done rendering aid. She assisted the medics with placing the injured on stretchers and provided as much vital information as possible to help the EMTs with their initial response efforts.
“I had the honor of representing Jennifer at the Melbourne Chamber’s award ceremony,” said Lt. Col. Edward G. Ferguson, TESS commander. “I sat among some amazing people at this event – firemen, police officers, emergency medical technicians – people who perform life-saving measures nearly every day. And while I was in awe of their actions, I realized Jen was the only person being recognized who was not a fully certified and trained first responder. That spoke volumes to me.”
Every year, the chamber presents three categories of valor awards to eligible Brevard County citizens: a medal of valor, a life-saving medal, and an award of merit. Each is presented for some form of extraordinary or unprecedented behavior or action.
Ferguson said, “The evening was a memorable tribute to members of our community whose selfless acts set them apart. I know Jen would have liked to attend, but her wedding plans needed attention. When I spoke to her before the event, she considered her feat of heroism as ‘no big deal’ and said it was something anyone else would have done under the circumstances. It was a great evening, and I’m incredibly proud to have Airmen like Jen in my squadron.”