By Major Eve Barker
DUMFRIES, Va. — On the afternoon of June 21, 2nd Lt. Matthew George, a student with Charlie Company at The Basic School, which trains Marine officers, was driving on US Route 1 in Dumfries when he witnessed a confrontation along the side of the road. As he drove past a group of people, he heard multiple gunshots ring out, and in his rearview mirror, he saw someone fall to the ground.
The perpetrator and his associates ran off, and “no one was doing anything” to help the victim, George said, so he turned his car around and drove back towards the scene. According to George, when he arrived at the site where the male victim had fallen, someone was on the phone with 911, and another person was standing nearby, but no one was directly assisting the victim.
Kneeling down on the side of Route 1, with cars moving past at about 40 miles per hour, George immediately assessed the situation. “I rotated the victim on his side, looked for a wound and asked for a shirt or something so I could apply pressure” to stop the bleeding, he said.
George said a bystander handed him a t-shirt, and he used that to apply pressure to the wound until another individual showed up with a first aid kit, and he was able to switch out the shirt with sterile padding.
“I had recently had the combat lifesaving course and kept trying to talk to him [the victim] and check for shock,” George said. As he applied pressure, he looked for other wounds and relayed information about the victim’s condition to the 911 caller, who in turn passed the information to the emergency dispatcher.
Police officers, firefighters and paramedics arrived within minutes of the incident, and George stepped back and passed off care of the victim to the paramedics. According to
Detective J.C. Pena of the Prince William County Police Department, the victim had been shot multiple times and was transported to a trauma center; he survived the shooting and has since been released from the hospital.
After the event, George reflected on the combat lifesaver training at TBS. “It seemed like a ‘far-away/if I ever have to do that’ kind of thing. It was definitely not something I saw coming around the corner.”
Given that George had received the instruction just three weeks prior to the incident, the lessons were fresh in his mind while he assisted the shooting victim. The course covers such topics as how to assess injuries, treat for shock, maintain an airway and breathing ability, and stop bleeding, among other topics. George said learning how to call in nine-line reports helped him to relay relevant information about the victim to the dispatcher via the person holding the phone.
George’s staff platoon commander at TBS, Capt. Samuel Ryder, said George earned a 99 out of 100 on the practical exam for the combat lifesaver course. Ryder said that George has put a lot of “heart and effort into the training” and that he is decisive and regularly volunteers to take on extra duties.
The TBS course was not George’s first experience with first aid training, however. According to George’s mother, Zoe Davis, George served as a lifeguard in college and received first aid training for that. She said he worked at a pool in an urban area and sometimes had to break up fights too.
Davis said when she first heard about her son’s involvement in the situation, she “was a little shaken and glad they [the perpetrators] didn’t come back to see how they did.” However, she said she was also “very proud that he would stop and involve himself with helping a stranger.”
George’s quick thinking and action enabled him to stop the bleeding before paramedics arrived and saved the victim’s life. In recognition of his initiative and service, George was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The award was presented to him by Col. Christian Wortman, commanding officer of TBS, during a brief break in the company’s execution of a multi-night field exercise.
George is approximately halfway through the six-month training pipeline at TBS and is hoping to serve as an infantry officer when he graduates.