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Three Vandenberg Service Members Act Swiftly to Save Man’s Life in Santa Maria

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Hunter Lavigne
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

On the afternoon of Saturday, May 20, 2023, three Vandenberg Space Force Base service members jumped into action to aid a man attempting to take his own life in Santa Maria, Calif.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Debrincia Scarborough, a member of the 533rd Training Squadron’s commander support staff, was the first to notice the distressing situation. “After we heard a loud bang outside the house we were in, we saw a man stumble from a crashed vehicle, who subsequently fell face first on the ground,” she said. Without hesitation, Scarborough urged her friends to join her in helping and she called emergency services.

Simultaneously, U.S. Space Force Sgt. Kendra Walker, 18th Space Defense Squadron crew chief, rushed to the man’s side in her vehicle. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Latrice Harris, 30th Logistical Readiness Squadron superintendent of plans and integration, then drove Scarborough to the scene.  

Walker, showing the man empathy and compassion, attempted to calm him by sitting with him on the curb. She also wrapped her arms around him and provided him reassurance. “The man repeatedly expressed his feelings of hopelessness, believing his life to be over. He kept saying he was a failure, stating that he just wanted to die,” said Walker.

In another attempt to end his suffering, he tried to return to the street, but the collective efforts of the three service members prevented him from doing so.

“According to the victim, he never received the help he needed and unfortunately thought this drastic attempt on his own life was the only way out,” said Walker.

Scarborough, Harris, and Walker reassured the man they were there for him, expressing no anger and assuring him that they would remain by his side until the arrival of first responders. After the scene was safe and he was calmer, the service members applied their training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) to assess the man’s injuries and determine the best course of action. They informed paramedics and police that the deployed airbags had caused severe bruising to his face and potential head trauma. They also noted that he had likely lost consciousness on the sidewalk due to the deployment of the airbags.

Reflecting on their military training, Harris emphasized their ability to remain composed and provided aid in an extremely challenging life-or-death situation. “TCCC and Ask, Care, Escort (ACE) training readied us to diagnose, treat, and support this man through one of the toughest days of his life,” said Harris.  

TCCC training equips individuals with evidence-based, life-saving techniques honed on the battlefield, while ACE training empowers military leaders to be proactive in preventing suicides and confident in their ability to intervene effectively.

“This incident serves as a powerful reminder of the dedication and bravery exhibited by service members, even during unexpected medical circumstances within their own communities. The swift and decisive actions of Senior Airman Scarborough, Sgt. Walker and Master Sgt. Harris undoubtedly saved a life, underscoring the crucial role that trained individuals can play in preventing tragedies and providing vital support to those in crisis,” said Maj. Jessica Meade, the 30th Medical Group's Aerospace and Operational Medicine flight commander, and the base's lead TCCC trainer.