RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
For Nedjet Martinez, saving others is instinct.
The former Air Force staff sergeant and certified nurse said she was riding on an alpine coaster with her family June 29 in Oberammergau, Germany, when the coaster in front of her came to a sudden halt, causing a woman to collide into her husband’s back and break her arm.
Martinez said her first inclination was to jump up and help the victim, Theresa Horne, right away, but the seatbelts remained locked in place. She later said it was more of a blessing because it allowed her to collect her thoughts and recall her medical training.
“In my head I started going through things,” Martinez said. “’Okay. ‘What do you do when you first get on the scene?’ ‘Check her pulse.’ ‘Do we need a tourniquet?’ I prepared myself beforehand, kind of all worked it out in my head until finally I got released.”
Martinez said she jumped into action as soon as she was released from the seat, helped Horne to a nearby hut and assessed her wounds. Martinez said this was where her Air Force training as an independent medical technician came into play, as she helped Master Sgt. Jorge Arce, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, administer first aid.
“We were cohesive,” Martinez said. “We knew what each other needed to do and we worked together like that. He’s holding the arm, I’m talking to her, I’m doing little checks and stuff while I’m talking to her.”
Martinez stressed that keeping the patient from going into shock is crucial in emergency situations, and keeping herself calm was key in making sure Horne kept calm.
“I spent a lot of time outside my comfort zone in my life,” Martinez said. “And that really taught me to be resilient. I feel like that part helped me share this resiliency with this person in a stressful situation.”
Through her experiences as an IDMT in the Air Force, Martinez said she was able to tell Horne exactly what was going to happen to her when the doctors arrived and helped calm her down until she eventually was evacuated by helicopter.
Today, Horne is still working on regaining full control of her arm, but Martinez said she is still in contact with her and after numerous surgeries she is using physical therapy to help the healing process.
On August 15, Martinez was recognized and coined for her first responder efforts by Brig. Gen. Mark R. August, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Ernesto J. Rendon Jr., 86th AW command chief.
Martinez said the moment was a surprise and very emotional for her.
“I was doing what I was supposed to do,” she said. “It’s that instinct, you know? So being recognized for being who I am meant a lot to me.”
Martinez said she plans to continue on with her efforts to help the less fortunate. She is currently studying to obtain her doctorate from the Baylor University as a nurse midwife with a focus on underserved communities.
“I’m not a perfect person,” Martinez said. “I have chips and scratches everywhere, so to speak. But man, if it wasn’t for those scars, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And it’s very important for me to share that with my children and my community.”
Martinez also includes the Air Force in her community as well.
“It’s still my Air Force community,” Martinez said. “Even though I’ve been out four years. It will always be my family.”