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Laughlin airman saves life in auto accident

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
What started off as a trip to the San Antonio International Airport to pick up his girlfriend, turned into a moment of heroism for Senior Airman Richard Ryan, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter.

It was Oct. 1 at about 11 a.m., on a hot and sunny Texas day, when Ryan was driving towards San Antonio on Highway 90 and witnessed a car accident.

A car driving half a mile ahead of him in the right lane, started to swerve on the two-lane road and suddenly spun, ramming into the metal railing that was along the left lane.

"It all happened so fast," Ryan said. "I couldn't believe what had just happened in front of me."

At that moment, Ryan's training kicked in as he immediately pulled over and tended to the scene.

"It was instinctive for me," said Ryan. "I ran over to the vehicle and told the man not to move. I surveyed the scene and saw leaking fluid beneath the car and disconnected the battery to avoid any electrical incidents."

Ryan stayed with the victim and held his head in place to avoid a spinal injury for about 30 minutes until the paramedics arrived on scene.

T.J. Richardson, the Medina County constable who arrived to the scene, explained that he was very impressed with the first aid response Ryan provided, noting that his constant attention to the injured driver and keeping him comfortable were vital to the victim's survival.

"I am very proud of Airman Ryan for using his training to go above and beyond the expectations," said Master Sgt. Abraham Avila, 47th Mission Support Group first sergeant. "Although this was a bad event, I am really glad he was there to ensure the safety of the individual."

The Chicago native received four months of technical training at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. Ryan was then stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, for two years and here at Laughlin AFB, where he has been stationed at for four years. Ryan also has four years of college level firefighter training and two and a half years of experience firefighting for a local fire department outside of Chicago.

"Did I do it for notoriety and recognition? Not at all. This is my every day thing, my second nature," said Ryan. "I may be technically on or off duty but I'm never really off duty."