BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
It’s incumbent upon members of the Armed Forces to uphold the value of service before self at all times, in and out of uniform.
Master Sgt. Kira Cox, 2nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron human performance flight chief, embodied this core value, one late February night, when she pulled a man from a smoking car after a major vehicle accident.
“There wasn’t even a second thought,” Cox said. “I saw him just flailing around, so I said ‘let me go open the door and help this guy.’”
While visiting her mother’s house late one evening in Jackson, Mississippi, Cox heard the crash of a loud noise and went to investigate.
“I was in the back room when I heard this loud bang,” Cox said. “So I ran out to the front and saw an SUV and a smaller vehicle that had hit each other and there was smoke everywhere.”
With smoke filling the air and panic slowly creeping in, Cox sprang into action, instructing her son to call 911 while she ran to the aid of those involved.
“The individuals in the SUV were able to walk so my neighbors were helping them and their family get out of the car,” Cox said. “But I could see the individual in the other car, flailing his arms and fanning smoke, not getting out, so I ran and opened the door and yelled ‘are you ok, are you ok?’”
The individual was not ok. Shortly after Cox reached his vehicle, the man slumped over, unconscious.
Immobilized and trapped in the asphyxiation of his mangled car, the outlook of the situation seemed rather bleak.
“His body just laid slumped out of the car, so I pulled him out,” Cox said. “My first instinct was to get him out and away from the car because there was so much smoke.”
After pulling the individual from the car, Cox began to provide care using skills she learned during her time in the Air Force.
“When I pulled him out I checked his pulse and made sure he was breathing properly,” Cox said. “ He tried to pick his head up once or twice but he was not coherent so I kept talking to him. I told him to stay with me, that my name was Kira and that an ambulance was on its way. Then he grabbed my hand and we waited until the paramedics came.”
Once the paramedics arrived, Cox continued to care for the man, passing on critical information and even assisting authorities with loading him into the ambulance.
“When the paramedics came, I told them that he had passed out and his legs were hurt,” Cox said. “Because I previously had EMT training in the military, I was able to help them strap him down and get him on the stretcher and then load him in the ambulance. After that, I never saw him again.”
Though Cox doesn’t know who the man is or how he is doing, one thing seems for certain; Cox’s valiant embodiment of service before self, allowed her to be a force of order in a time of chaos and a beacon of comfort in a man’s time of need.
“Master Sgt. Cox’s actions are the epitome of ‘running-to-the-fire’ and demonstrate the courage we hope for in all Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Shaw, 2nd OMRS commander. “The 2nd OMRS is proud of Cox. Her actions reflect the excellence we see from her every day.”