In an emergency situation, seconds matter. Sometimes the difference between life and death can depend on the kindness of strangers, calm under pressure and a clear mind in the chaos: all traits you would expect from a Marine.
"Marines run to the sound of a gun. Like, it's just, it's in our blood," Staff Sgt. Jeff Belko said.
What happened the morning of Nov. 7 near 9th and I streets SE wasn’t a combat situation, but a life was hanging in the balance.
Shortly after riding past the guard tower outside the Marine Barracks, a woman on a scooter was hit by a car and pinned underneath.
Marines in the guard tower rushed to her side and put out a call for help. Belko was one of several who answered.
"All I could see was her leg sticking out from under the car and probably from her midsection and down was outside," Belko said.
Lifting the car was out of the question. The Marines had to find another way — and the clock was ticking. One quick-thinking Marine ran to the trunk to retrieve the car jack. Belko then got another jack from a nearby driver.
"I moved to the front of the car to jack it up there in order to get the pressure off the woman and right at that time is when fire and EMS showed up," Belko said.
Because of the Marines, firefighters arrived with a head start. They pulled the woman from underneath the car and took her to the hospital.
"She very well could not, may not have been able to breathe underneath a vehicle like that and with them jacking up the vehicle like that and having us arrive on scene, they initially took out an entire portion of the job we had to do upon arrival," said firefighter Glenn Hanna, with Engine Company 18.
You can call it heroics or simply being the right place at the right time, but Belko says it’s just what they’re trained to do.
"Marines have always been known to respond to chaos and so that was just responding to chaos," Belko said.