You never know what you’re going to see on a road trip. Few of us — fortunately — will probably ever witness an accident happening right in front of us where life is put at immediate risk, and fewer still will even be in a position to be able to help.
On Dec. 22, Sgt. Trey Troney, a 20-year-old who’d been in the Army for three years, came across a concerning sight at 2 p.m. near Sweetwater, Texas, while driving to Mississippi.
Troney wasn’t the only one who’d spotted the truck pulled to the side with a distressed driver, and he and two others opened the door to find the driver conscious but in rough shape.
The driver, Jeff Udger, had a cut to his head, which Troney immediately attended to. He took the New Orleans Saints hoodie he was wearing, which was new, and used it to staunch the flow of blood.
The young man soon realized Udger wasn’t breathing properly. The right side of the man’s chest was moving as he breathed in and out, but the other side was not.
Fortunately for all involved, Troney had the knowledge to recognize this meant Udger had a collapsed lung. He also had the skill to perform the task that needed to be undertaken, and almost all the medical equipment needed to complete that task.
In his car, Troney found a Needle Chest Compression and an Individual First Aid Kit — but the needle was too small for Udger. Without being able to reach Udger’s lungs, Troney wouldn’t be able to help.
So he got creative and decided that in this instance of life and death, a ballpoint pen might do the trick.
“I took the NCD and put it right in the hole and kind of wiggled (the pen) in with my hand in between the ribs and you just started to see the bubbles come out of the tip, and I was like, ‘OK, we’re good,'” Troney said later, according to a post by the U.S Army.
“I was in a pair of jogging pants and a T-shirt on the side of a highway and somebody’s life depended on me slightly knowing a little bit,” he added. “It wasn’t anything crazy, but to (Udger), it was his world.
“You’re just there and you might have what they need. He needed an ink pen to the ribs. Luckily I had an ink pen.”
A state trooper had just arrived on the scene of the accident, and he asked if Troney had really just stuck the man with an ink pen.
“I was like, ‘I did,'” Troney admitted. “And (the state trooper) was like, ‘he’s on no pain meds,’ and I said, ‘oh, he felt it, but he’s unconscious. He lost consciousness as I was running back to my Jeep because he had lost a lot of blood.'”
While Troney was initially concerned that his heroic efforts might be met with a lawsuit once Udger was himself again, both the paramedics and Udger ultimately credited the young man with saving the driver’s life.
“In an urgent situation (Troney) showed amazing patience and continuous care,” Udger wrote in an email to Army public affairs. “He kept talking to me and acted as if the situation was no pressure at all.
“Young man, you will always be my hero. Continue to give back to this world and the people in it. You truly will never know when you will make a life-changing impact to someone.”
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