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Cannon EMT proves to be trusted care hero

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- From the first time Airmen lace up their combat boots to the last time they kick them off, the Air Force’s core values are ingrained in them. They are taught to put integrity first, doing what is right when no one is looking. They know they must put service before self, forsaking personal desires for the good of the team. They are expected to demonstrate excellence in all they do, striving to be better today than the day before.

Over the past several months, Senior Airman Paul Alkoby, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, has modeled what living out the core values looks like. Utilizing his medical skillset and an above-average commitment to the Golden Rule, Alkoby has aided strangers and fellow Airmen without hesitation or agenda.

“I do not consider my actions to be heroic or noteworthy,” Alkoby said. ““I joined the Air Force to give back to this nation and that’s what I am doing.”

After completing emergency medical technician training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, Alkoby was stationed in Germany for two years, working at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Prior to departing, the senior airman had an opportunity to practice his skills in an impromptu situation on the streets of Frankfurt, when a wheelchair-bound woman toppled down a flight of stairs.

“My friend was driving me to the airport when he noticed a woman lying on the ground surrounded by a crowd of people,” Alkoby said. “I asked him to turn around and we learned that the woman had been in a wheelchair and fallen down roughly 18 stairs. She had a huge laceration on her forehead and was pretty banged up.”

Alkoby provided the woman with first-responder care and monitored her condition until German paramedics arrived on-scene.

“The paramedics who transferred the woman to the hospital called me and said she had sustained two broken vertebrae and a broken hip,” Alkoby said. “Despite her injuries, she was stable and expected to recover fully.”

After moving to Cannon in October 2015, several opportunities for Alkoby to help others presented themselves in short order. Though he was off-the-clock and medical care did not need to be rendered, the Philadelphia native acted in the only way he knows how.

“I was driving to Colorado to visit friends for Thanksgiving when the roads started icing over,” Alkoby said. “I pulled over to throw my vehicle into four-wheel drive when I saw two vehicles slide off the road into an embankment behind me.”

As Alkoby performed quick wellness assessments of the passengers, several more vehicles skidded off the road and into the ditch.

“An off-duty tow truck driver and I both ran from car to car as they bee-lined off the road, making sure no one was hurt,” Alkoby said. “Fortunately, no one had sustained injuries and we were able to get many of them back onto the road.”

Similarly, when one of the most relentless blizzards in local history struck Cannon over the 2015 holiday season, Alkoby was again cast in the role of rescuer and caregiver.

“I was on shift with my partner, Senior Airman Sydnee Mahkovtz [27th SOMDOS aerospace medical technician] during the snow storm that hit after Christmas,” Alkoby said. “We were unaware of how devastating the storm would be and were preparing to shovel snow and maintain the clinic grounds when we learned there were people trapped at the Exchange.”

True to form, Alkoby began coordinating a relief effort.

“When we arrived, we were able to provide blankets and resources to those individuals who were trapped,” Alkoby said. “The storm made transportation impossible due to lack of visibility, but we continued to check on them throughout the night and make sure their needs were met.”

Over the course of his more than 30-hour blizzard shift, Alkoby and EMT team members responded to several calls for help in zero-visibility conditions and despite getting stuck on several occasions, continued to place the needs of others above their own.

“Alkoby is the kind of guy who is willing to go out of his way to help others,” said Staff Sgt. Dimitry Cripps, 27th SOMDOS aerospace medical technician. “We have a small team and having a highly motivated, selfless teammate like Alkoby is advantageous to us all.”

As evidenced by his actions, Alkoby embodies each of the three core values. Even before the Air Force had dominion to instill these crucial characteristics into Alkoby, his first set of training instructors taught him well.

Alkoby calls them Mom and Dad.

“My parents raised me to be the kind of person who stops,” Alkoby said. “I cannot see someone in need and pass them by; my conscience would not allow it. The Air Force has strengthened the teachings of my parents and placed me in an environment that not only encourages you to act, but demands you to. We live in that integrity mindset, and that has been highly beneficial to me as an Airman, and as a person.”