Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Waterbury, interim emergency manager for Fort Jackson, put his medical skills to use when he encountered two gunshot victims, Jan. 8. (Josephine Carlson)

By Josie Carlson, Fort Jackson Leader

For one noncommissioned officer on Fort Jackson handling emergencies is his day job.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Waterbury, the post’s interim emergency manager with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, helps the installation prepare for full-scale emergency exercises.

Nevertheless, one night recently he put his training to work on a different emergency when he helped two victims of gunshot wounds.

“I was with one of my friends,” he said calmly as he recalled the night’s event when they saw a car being driven erratically. “We were going through a neighborhood and this car starts acting sporadic flashing its lights, honking its horn, going into our lane, so we wanted to figure out the situation. So we pulled over. As soon as I got out, two individuals came towards us.”

One victim said “’I was shot, I was shot,’” So at that point, I told my friend Lou, ‘Hey, call 911.’”

As they approached, Waterbury (a career combat medic) started to assess the victims. One victims was holding his should and the other grasping his left arm – both indicative of gunshot wounds.

“After kind of assessing them … kind of triaging both of them, I went with the worst,” he said. I “cut down his whole sleeve to reveal his whole bicep and tricep that were almost nonexistent at that point.”

He applied a tourniquet (that he keeps in the medical kit he keeps with him) to the victim, while reassuring him the whole time, until deputies from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department pulled up and started questioning the victims.

When the Fire Department arrived, Waterbury’s instincts as a senior NCO kicked in and he took charge of the situation.

“I'd say five minutes after that, the fire department came in and they said, ‘Hey, what can we do?’ And I said, ‘Hey, can you do me a favor and you know, start treating him, finish treating him while I assess the other one?’”

The other individual had a gunshot wound to his shoulder that Waterbury bandaged. About that time, Richland County EMS showed up.

Waterbury doesn’t know if the tourniquet helped save the man’s arm, but he said he believes anyone on Fort Jackson would’ve done the same thing.

“Given the situation, I think anybody here on Fort Jackson, Soldier or civilian, would react the same exact way,” he said. It is almost like “second nature that we are there to help others.”

He added this second nature was “100%” borne from the basic and advanced medical training he received over the past 18 years.

“I think that it is an incredible act of human kindness and empathy,” said Ron Cooper, DPTMS’s chief of plans and operations. “His training and military bearing likely helped him to remain calm and provide the proper first aid.”