Soldier used ballpoint pen to save crash victim, Army says
Army Sgt. Trey Troney says he was on his way home to Mississippi for the holidays when he saw the mangled truck on the side of Interstate 20.
Troney, stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, could make out the silhouette of the driver, slumped over the steering wheel of the gray pickup as he made the 1,085-mile drive home, so he stopped, according to an Army news release.
The man inside the truck, identified by the Army as Longview, Texas, resident Jeff Udger, had a bloody head wound, and was still conscious enough to jokingly resist when Troney took off his New Orleans Saints hoodie and started to wrap it around Udger’s head to stop the bleeding.
“Well, this is Cowboy country, so I don’t know how I feel about you wrapping me up in a Saints hoodie,” Udger told Troney, according to the release.
Udger passed out from blood loss as Troney walked back to his Jeep to see what kind of first aid supplies he could use to help. Meanwhile, first responders were on their way to the scene in the town just outside Lubbock, according to Army Times, and Troney realized that Udger had a collapsed lung.
Troney had just completed a rotation at the Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., where he learned combat first aid, the release states. He also had a needle for chest decompression in the Jeep.
Chest decompression is an emergency procedure where a surgeon (usually) shoves a needle down through a patient’s breast plate and into a lung. The needle isn’t filled with medicine, though — it simply allows for airflow into the damaged lung, so the patient can breathe while responders address other trauma or transport the patient to a medical facility, according to the National Institute of Health.
Just one problem: the needle in Troney’s Jeep wasn’t long enough to reach Udger’s collapsed lung once it got inside Udger’s chest cavity, Army Times reported.
So Troney scrambled, and improvised. He took the plastic tube out of a ballpoint pen, emptied it out and attached it to his needle like he was MacGyver, according to the news release.
“I took the (needle) 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, according to the Army news release.
Troney worried that he might get sued if he made a mistake during the ordeal, the Army release said. Instead, Udger praised Troney’s actions and told the Army that his doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
“In an urgent situation [Troney] showed amazing patience and continuous care,” Udger said, according to the release. “He kept talking to me and acted as if the situation was no pressure at all.”
For Troney, it was all about duty.
“I was glad I was in the right place at the right time,” Troney said, according to the El Paso Times.
Army Sgt. Trey Troney is credited with saving the life of Jeff Udger of Texas after Udger was injured in a crash.