Treacherous Trail Rescue

  • Published
  • By Jeramy Moore
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing

On the morning of October 06, 2018, 1st Lt. Kirsten Kent, an Intelligence Officer with the 916th Operations Support Squadron and a group of friends were hiking in the mountains of New Mexico when they heard screams for help. 

The group went into high alert, they began to investigate the source of the screams.

Eventually, they came across a child who explained that he was camping with family nearby and a tree had fallen on his parent’s tent.

Instinctively, Kent led the group over to the boy’s campsite to assess the situation and provide aid.

“We found the mother and father pinned under the fallen tree and immediately began to consider ways to help. I knew we needed to move the tree and that the individuals underneath would definitely need medical attention, the question was just how much, said Kent.”

After removing the tree with the help of the family’s oldest daughter, Kent inquired as to the condition of the injured. The couple showed no signs of external bleeding however, the mother reported a hip injury and the father complained of severe lower back pain.

In a critical moment, Kent sent a runner down the mountain to call for help. She remained at the campsite and began to comfort and aid the injured.

My Self Aid Buddy Care training was helpful, but so was the overall stress of all the other training I’ve undergone. Learning to keep a cool head under pressure, to assess the situation, make a decision and act was very helpful here, said Kent. 

Because hazardous conditions were still present, Kent also sent the couple’s children down the mountain to safety. When one of the daughters could not find her jacket, Kent opted to brave the high winds and rain so that the girl would not have to.

At the Airman’s direction, the remaining children packed up their gear and evacuated the mountain with Kent’s husband, Josh. Thanks to her training, she was able to determine that the mother had gone into shock. Almost automatically, Kent and her friend Samantha began to pile sleeping bags on the injured woman after she complained of chills.

Eventually, the runner returned after successfully reaching out to first responders, and the group started down the mountain to meet them. The couple’s injuries and falling sleet and hail made the descent a dangerous task but eventually, they all made it safely to the bottom. 

“I just did what I hope any other person would have done if they’d been in that situation. I was thankful someone was there to help and was trained to do so, said Kent.”

Search and rescue teams met the group a half-mile from the trailhead and emergency personnel were able to evacuate the injured to a nearby hospital.

“I was not surprised to hear about Lt Kent’s selfless act though, I am very proud to have her in my squadron. She radiates optimism and her attitude is infectious, said Lt. Col. Amanda Person, the commander of the 916th OSS. It is this wholehearted disposition on life that compelled her to intervene even under extreme circumstances. I look forward to her safe return and the opportunity to watch the Air Force and all of society reap the rewards of such an outstanding Airman.”
Kent was dogged in her determination to help, every step of the way her and her friends were there to provide assistance and direction to a couple in dire need. The family thanked Kent’s group for their help.

“This solidified my belief that what we do in the AF Reserve is important. We are always on duty in our communities and beyond. We represent our branch in and out of uniform, and how we act and react is sometimes critically important, said Kent.”