Applying pressure

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Running through the same morning routine before work, Ivan Grijalva climbed into his truck for his commute to work.

As he was driving down a Tucson country road, a single headlight appeared in Grijalva's rearview mirror. The vehicle sped past his truck and proceeded ahead.

The fast-moving motorcycle headed towards a busy main road ahead before entering the intersection.

According to Gilbert Fimbers, he approached the intersection slamming his motorcycles brakes and laying down his bike.

"I don't remember the impact, just the sound of my bike getting hit in the intersection," said Fimbers, motorcycle crash victim.

Fimbers gasped for breath as Grijalva pulled him out of the road by his collar.

"I jumped out of my truck and found him on the ground," said Grijalva, 355th Dental Squadron dental assistant.  "I pulled him away from the traffic and turned him around; that's when I noticed that his leg was completely gone."

Through the dark of the early morning, Grijalva saw Fimbers missing leg in the light of passing vehicles.

Fimbers was bleeding heavily from his wounds and was in a state of distress and shock. He was twisting and turning, unleashing screams of pain.

Grijalva, using his knowledge from how he constricts blood flow with bands when starting IVs at work was able to correctly apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

"I looked up at him and asked him, 'am I going to die?'" said Fimbers. "He said 'no buddy'"

During the incident people had stopped to move the motorcycle crowding around in shock not quite knowing how to help.

"I didn't wear a belt that morning so I lifted up his jacket and saw his, pulled it off and wrapped it as tight as I could around his amputated leg," Grijalva said. "With my other hand, I called 911."

As Grijalva waited for the ambulance to arrive, he held the tourniquet in place and tried to minimize Fimbers movements.

Fimbers recalled the pain he was in and how Grijalva kept talking to him to keep him calm.  

"He kept screaming and I just tried to make sure he stayed conscious," Grijalva said.

If Grijalva wouldn't have stopped, Fimbers would have bled out and died, confirmed both Grijalva and Fimbers.

"It was almost like our patients here, I felt the responsibility to go to work and make sure our patients are seen," Grijalva said. "It was almost like he was the first patient of the day, just a little different from what I normally do."