106th Rescue Wing Member Rescues Fellow Veteran
By Master Sgt Cambridge, 106 Rescue Wing
/ Published June 24, 2015
6/24/2015 -- WESTHAMPTON BEACH-- A routine drive to work turned into the opportunity to save a life for Tech Sgt. Matthew Davidson, a member of the 106th Rescue Wing, on Friday March 27.
It was just after 5:45 a.m. as Davidson was driving to work on Route 27 when he thought he saw somebody by the side of the road.
"At the corner of my eye, I saw an arm go down," Davidson recalled.
"It took a second.' Did I just see that?' And the second thought of, 'That could not have been someone on the side of the road.' '' Davidson added.
Following his gut feeling, Davidson turned his car around towards the opposite direction of traffic.
There was a man lying just off the road. He was face down, five feet from the white line.
When Davidson realized what was in front of him, he positioned his car between the man and oncoming traffic to block the wind and to protect the man from any cars that may veer off road a hit the guy.
"As I'm doing that, I called 911 to let them know that there's somebody lying here at the side of the road and is currently not moving," Davidson said.
Davidson got out of his car to check on the man. He did not know what to expect because there was no car or motorcycle and initially Davidson thought it was a setup for a robbery.
"Are there going to be two or three guys coming out of the woods? Is this guy bait for something else?" he said.
Cautiously, Davidson, an Army infantryman in the Active Army and Army National Guard for 12 years before joining the Air National Guard, went up to the man and started casualty assessment. He tried to wake the man up by nudging him. There was no response.
"His breathing was so shallow I thought he'd passed," Davidson said.
"He is face down, so I reach under his neck to feel for a pulse and just as I get my hand on his neck, he went into a convulsion" Davidson said.
Davidson was glad to know that the man was alive. He held him to keep him from going into the street as the seizures hit.
A State Trooper came on the scene and by that time the man was coming to. He then suffered a second seizure.
The Trooper provided the man with the emergency blanket and called his wife while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Davidson noticed a few things about the man.
"He had the DoD green socks and when he was coming out of his second seizures, he was doing, in a lack of better terms, a picture perfect low crawl, I'm like, 'Something is up with this guy, this guy is military of some sort,'" Davidson recalled.
As the man came to, he started talking. Davidson learned he was former Army Sgt. Vincent Rivera. He's served two tours in Iraq, and served in the Army from 2004 to 2012 with the 1st Squadron 10th Cavalry.
Knowing that, Davidson knew that he needed to keep on talking to Rivera until the ambulance showed up.
As a member of the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion 69th Infantry Davidson had served in Iraq in 2004/05. He knew how nerve-racking the wait for help can be, Davidson said.
"Seconds feel like minutes, Minutes feel like hours when you're waiting for help, so my initial thought was just to keep him talking. Keep him calm, keep him steady until the ambulance came" he explained.
After the ambulance picked up Rivera - who collapsed five miles away from home- Davidson visited the hospital an hour later to make sure Rivera was alright.
Rivera barely remembers anything.
"I fell asleep around twelve and I woke up on the side of Sunrise Highway with Tech Sgt. Davidson and a couple of state troopers," Rivera recalled "He was the only one that stopped"
Teresa Rivera, Rivera's wife, credits Davidson for saving her husband's life.
"I got emotional when I saw Matthew in the hospital." She said. "If it wasn't for him, my husband could have been hit by a car; he really did save my husband's life."