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APE team saves the day

Members of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Airfield Pavement Evaluation Team helped save lives following a multi-vehicle accident in Avon Park, Florida, in February 2016. The team contacted emergency assistance services, helped free  individuals trapped in one of the vehicles, and moved people involved in the accident to safety.(Courtesy Photo)

Members of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Airfield Pavement Evaluation Team helped save lives following a multi-vehicle accident in Avon Park, Florida, February 2016. The team contacted emergency assistance services, helped free individuals trapped in one of the vehicles and moved people involved in the accident to safety. (Courtesy photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Members of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Airfield Pavement Evaluation Team helped save lives following a multi-vehicle accident in Avon Park, Florida, this past February.

The team members had completed their work for the day and were enjoying dinner when they heard the sounds of crashing and screeching metal.

"We stepped back from the wall thinking something was going to come through it," said Capt. John Kulikowski, APE Team chief. "A woman had just parked her car, stepped in the door and screamed out 'help.'"

Several APE team members had received advanced emergency response training to assist in the event of injuries during regular training exercises, and put it to use supporting the injured until paramedics arrived.

"We heard the crash and ran outside to see if everyone was alright," said Master Sgt. Bruce King, APE team superintendent. "We ended up seeing a pickup truck that had struck one car, pushed it forward, ran into another car and flipped a couple times."

There was a gas can leaking near the vehicles, which the team secured and removed from the scene.  The Air Force members were also able to help the young man and woman escape from the truck they were trapped in.

They then ensured no one left the incident scene, instructed an onlooker to call for emergency assistance and moved the victims to a safe location on the side of the road. They also used their training to evaluate and calm those involved in the accident until emergency responders arrived.

"It is a pretty crazy experience, over all, when you walk out and see such an accident with a truck flipped over and two cars smashed," Kulikowski said

After evaluating the incident, it was discovered that the truck tie rod broke while crossing railroad tracks which caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, hitting a parked car which smashed another car and caused the truck to flip over.

"We are grateful that our team was able to assist the accident victims to help avoid more serious injury," said Lt. Col. David Novy, deputy director of the AFCEC Operations Directorate.