Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Outdoor rec team responds to accident

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Aug. 6 started out as an ordinary day of rafting for Kevin Michaelsen, outdoor adventure program manager, and Casey Graham, outdoor recreation assistant manager. Michaelsen and Graham were leading a caravan headed to the Arkansas River.

“We were just past Cañon City and the Royal Gorge turn off, and we came around the corner and saw a (motorcycle) laid down and a couple people up against the guard rail,” Graham said.

A new motorcycle rider and his wife took a turn too fast, laid the bike down and hit the right hand guard rail. Several others stopped and called 911 before Michaelsen and Graham arrived to the scene.

“Casey, my assistant, and I were definitely the two most medically trained people in the group,” Michaelsen said.

Michaelsen is a certified EMT. Graham is a wilderness first responder and has experience with ski patrol rescues.

“It’s like they stepped right off the ambulance themselves and were professional medical personnel,” said Lt. Col. Tom Single, Air Force Space Command space protection program.

Single is a volunteer raft guide and was on the trip the day of the accident. “I think they did an incredible job with how they responded,” he said.

The pair split up and administered care to the man and woman.

Michaelsen went to the woman. “The most immediate thing that I saw was that she had an almost completely severed ring finger. So, I started dealing with that; splinted it, gauzed it, wrapped it up,” he said.

The woman also had a deep puncture wound on her forearm and some road rash.

Graham went to the man. “His arm was fairly mangled. He probably had a dislocated elbow, lacerations all over the place, a broken forearm,” Graham said.

Both riders were wearing helmets and boots, though they weren’t wearing any other protective gear. “Compared to what could have happened, they made out really well,” Michaelsen said.

By the time the ambulance arrived from Cañon City, Michaelsen and Graham had stabilized the couple and they were ready to be transported. “They saw that we had patched (the couple) up pretty well; they really didn’t need to do much else,” Michaelsen said.

After the pair was off to the hospital, Michaelsen and Graham got back in the truck and still led a full day rafting trip.

The two haven’t heard anything more about the couple since they left the scene of the accident, though they didn’t think the injuries were life threatening. “The last thing was the guy; he said thank you,” Graham said.

But they didn’t stop and help so they could be recognized.

“They’re so humble. They didn’t have to respond,” Single said. “They kept the victims very calm. They secured the situation.”

“You’re nervous, but there are people who need help, and we have the skills to help them, so you just jump in and do it,” Michaelsen said.

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