Sexual Assault Prevention
Above and Beyond: Massachusetts NAtional Guard Soldier Treats Civilian Gunshot Victim
Story Sgt.1st Class Whitney Hughes, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Spc. Julissa Maldonado is a combat lifesaver, applying first aid on the battlefield is something she trains on over, and over. But last month, she wasn’t on a battlefield, she was in her apartment; and the shots that rang out were in the next door. Her neighbor had been shot, and within minutes the 21-year-old who has never been in a combat zone, found herself treating a gunshot victim.
According to the New Bedford, Mass. Police on May 7, 2017 at about 6:00 p.m. a call came in that there was a shooting in the apartment next to Maldonado’s. Instead of waiting for law enforcement or first responders, she grabbed her combat lifesaver bag from her car and went into the apartment to help.
“It was definitely brave, because at the time the shooter hadn’t been apprehended, and this is a high crime area,” said Lt. Amos Melo, of the New Bedford Police Department. “Usually nobody wants to put themselves in that situation. Most witnesses scatter from the scene, leaving the shooting victim alone.”
But leaving the scene was the last thing on her mind.
“Everyone was yelling to stay inside, and I ran outside to grab my bag,” said Maldonado. “Then I just ran straight into the scene of the crime,” she said her voice trailing off, as if recounting the end of a less-than memorable movie. “There were a lot of children playing outside. That was my main concern; that it going to be a child that was shot.”
When she entered the apartment Maldonado found that her neighbor, and actually a life-long friend, had been shot in the arm. Another civilian (who was a Certified Nursing Assistant) was trying to use paper towels to stop the bleeding. Maldonado quickly went through her combat lifesaver bag and found the bandage used specifically for arm wounds and applied it. She and the other woman didn’t stop there, they continued with further care until first responders arrived, all while the shooter was still at large.
“It’s definitely a surprise to arrive on scene and see somebody already treated,” said Melo. “Not only did she bandage the wound, they had removed his shirt to check for other injuries, and they had his arm elevated.” He went on to explain that he might see something like this at a car accident scene, but with a gunshot victim it is rare to see people put themselves in danger to provide first aid.
Maldonado said that going forward from this she definitely values her medical training even more, and plans to share her experience as an example of how combat lifesaver training can be valuable during, and outside of combat.
“I don’t live in the best neighborhood in the world, but even in good neighbors there are bad people,” said Maldonado.
A few weeks later Maldonado ran into the victim at their building and they got to chat briefly. He thanked her and told her how much his family also appreciated what she did. His family also still lives there and referred to her as “the hero of the day.”
They were not the only ones that were thankful.
“I applaud them for their quick response, their bravery, knowing the shooter was still at large, and above all proud that they are residents of our city,” said Melo.
Command Sergeant Major
Carlos Ramos Rivera
State Command Sergeant Major