By Audrey Hill
3rd Recruiting Brigade
June 2, 2017
FORT KNOX, Ky. - An Army recruiter assigned to the Springfield (Illinois) Recruiting Center was honored by a local police department May 2 for his actions in saving the life of a critically injured man.
Sgt. Christopher Brooks was awarded the Civilian Service Life Saving Award by the Moline (Illinois) Police Department for his actions March 3 after discovering a man had fallen into a plate-glass window, severing an artery.
On the night of the incident, Brooks and several friends had just come from a Brantley Gilbert music concert at the iWireless Center in Moline when he came across the injured man, Jon Howard. Howard was bleeding profusely and appeared to be going into shock.
"I knew we had to stop the bleeding, or we were going to lose him," Brooks said. "I let the gentleman know that I was in the Army, so I actually knew what I was doing and was trained for emergency medical situations like this, and not just some random stranger jumping in not knowing what to do."
Using his Army medical training skills, Brooks knew immediately to apply a tourniquet to the affected area. He grabbed Howard's belt and wrapped it around his arm, which drastically slowed the bleeding.
Brooks is no rookie when it comes to severe arm injuries.
He performed the same type of lifesaving measures on himself in Afghanistan when he was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade that damaged his right tricep. He was bleeding - losing a lot of blood. He went into immediate self-survivor mode and applied a tourniquet to his own arm to stop the bleeding. His arm was saved, but he is still rehabilitating his injury.
Brooks remembered being hospitalized for more than five months and the painful intensive physical therapy he went through to get back the use of his arm. He knew the man in the ambulance would go through much of that same experience.
Brooks thought that once Howard was transported to the hospital, it would be the last he'd hear of the incident.
"I didn't know his name or what happened afterwards," Brooks said. "When the ambulance arrived, the EMTs took over, put him on a gurney and they rushed him to the hospital."
Brooks credits his Army training in providing him the life-saving skills needed to help stabilize a wounded comrade's condition until medical personnel arrives.
"It's Army training," Brooks said. "When you've done the training over and over and when something like this happens, you don't have time to think - instinct - training kicks in.
"We know we have to keep our wits, and you don't have time to freak out. Everything turns to muscle memory, and it's a reaction thing."
Howard told a Davenport, Iowa, television station, "He's an amazing man. He saved my life and affected a lot of people's lives. He's just a true American hero."
Patient and ad-hoc medic were reunited at the ceremony. Howard is on the mend.
"It's a big relief to see Mr. Howard and know he's OK...," Brooks said. "I'm just glad I was there at the right time, right place.
"It truly is a privilege to be honored for something you do," he said. "It's great, but this wasn't something I did for recognition; it was just the right thing to do."