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National Guardsmen save New York subway stabbing victim

Two New York Army National Guard soldiers were on duty as part of Operation Empire Shield when they helped break up a fight and found a man had been stabbed.
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New York subway stabbing
New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joel Strickland (left) and Spc. Desany Jacques (right) used their medical skills and a trauma bandage from their Individual First Aid Kit to save the life of a man who was stabbed on May 20 at a subway station in Queens, New York. (Lt. Stephanie Sylvain/U.S. Army National Guard)

Two New York Army Guardsmen used their combat lifesaving skills and a special bandage from their medical kit to save the life of a man who had been stabbed at a subway station in Queens, New York. New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joel Strickland and Spc. Desany Jacques were on duty for Operation Empire Shield on May 20 when they helped break up a fight in the subway, discovering that one of the men was stabbed.

Strickland is a medic with the headquarters company of the 42nd Infantry Division, and Jacques is a supply specialist with the 102nd Military Police Company, a National Guard news story says. In addition to having military medical training, the two men also serve as civilian volunteer first responders.

“These two Soldiers were able to react without hesitation,” Capt. Caleb Jean, Strickland and Jacques’ company commander, said in a statement. “I am extremely impressed with how they handled the situation.”

The New York National Guard has conducted bag checks at New York City’s transit stations since March to check for weapons. The move came as a response to several violent attacks on the city’s subway system.

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Both Jacques and Strickland are part of Operation Empire Shield, which is made up of 780 soldiers and airmen on state active duty, who provide security at city train and subway stations, airports, and bridges.

On the afternoon of May 20, the two men arrived at the security checkpoint for the subway station at Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Street. Suddenly, a shirtless man came down the station stairs while cursing and screaming.

The man jumped the turnstile and got into a fight with two other men. Five police officers subdued the attacker as Jacques and Strickland helped to control the crowd.

After the fight, the two men who had been attacked ran up to Strickland, Jacques, and a police officer.

“Specialist Jacques says, ‘Are you OK?’” Strickland recalled. “One of the civilians turns around — he had a black hoodie on — and his entire hoodie was soaked in blood.”

As police called for an ambulance, Strickland told Jacques to get an Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, from their vehicle. Strickland and police then helped get the stricken man on the ground and pulled off his hoodie. They saw he had a stab wound on his upper back that was 4 inches long and roughly as wide as a nickel.

Strickland put on latex gloves and tried to staunch the bleeding, but he needed a trauma bandage from the IFAK to pack the wound.  Jacques quickly returned with medical kit, which had exactly what both soldiers needed: A CELOX bandage that uses material made from shrimp, crab, and lobster shells to make a blood clot, similar to the Quick Clot bandages used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With both of his hands still clamped down on the wound, Strickland told Jacques to open the bandage packet, make a ball at the end of the gauze strip and hand the ball to him. They worked together for several minutes to pack the wound until the bleeding stopped.

About 10 minutes later, civilian Emergency Medical Technicians arrived at the scene and took the man to a hospital. No information about the man’s current medical condition was immediately available on Thursday.

Jacques said that the IFAK, which all Joint Task Force Empire Shield members carry as part of their official load out, was “extremely instrumental” in allowing them to treat the stab wound.

He also said that soldiers and airmen assigned to the Task Force need to be prepared to respond to all sorts of dangerous situations.

“I would definitely say, don’t be complacent,” Jacques said “Every day is something new on post for us.”

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