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Sergeant helps rescue 11-year-old boy from drowning

F.E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. -- The assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms for the 90th Ground Combat Training Squadron at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., helped rescue an 11-year-old boy from drowning Aug. 1.

Tech. Sgt. Brian Evans, fire arms instructor, gunsmith and volunteer fire fighter with the Guernsey Fire Department, was finishing a training session with security forces Airmen from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., when his pager went off around 4 p.m. that Tuesday.

A boy was in danger of drowning in the North Platte River in Guernsey, a town of about 1,100 people, and needed Sergeant Evans' help.

The boy was doing what is called skerfing. Skerfing is done by tying plywood to a bridge. The current is strong enough on that section of the river that when one stands on the plywood it's almost like surfing, said Sergeant Evans.

The boy fell off the piece of plywood, hit his head and lost consciousness. Two good Samaritans jumped in the water to help him, but they, too, were overcome by the raging current. They managed to get the child against a pillar and awaited rescue.

Sergeant Evans arrived at the scene with the six Airmen from Malmstrom AFB to meet three other members of the fire department swift water rescue team. They immediately sprung into action.

Two members of the team also needed assistance to shore after their attempt to rescue the boy. Sergeant Evans acted as an anchor on the shore by tying a rope around himself while the assistant fire chief and town paramedic swam out to the boy and attached a life jacket to him. They also pulled the two would-be rescuers to safety.

Everyone was ecstatic after the rescue, including the Airmen from Malmstrom AFB who assisted in the rescue, according to Sergeant Evans.

All of the four rescuers who went to help the boy escaped injury. The 11-year-old's core temperature dropped to 91 degrees and was immediately transported to the hospital.

Sergeant Evans, a 19-year Air Force veteran, hasn't spoken to the boy since the rescue, but he heard he's doing fine.

"It was a great thing. You get a nice sense of pride," said Sergeant Evans.

"Brian has done great things for the community with the water rescue and helping with the [recent] wild fires," said Maj. Joseph Gallagher, 90 GCTS commander. "One of the things we're trying to do is integrate into the community. His dedication and his background [are] a win-win situation for both [the Air Force and the local community]."

Just a few hours after the rescue, Guersney held their monthly town meeting.

Members of the town discussed ways to prevent people from skerfing on the river. They are working on the possibility of making life jackets mandatory and putting up warning signs.

When he retires in six months, the Illinois native hopes to either work as a civilian at Camp Guernsey or join the fire department full time.

"It's nice to help out in town," said Sergeant Evans. "I literally know everyone in town after being here a year."

The fire department will present Sergeant Evans and the six Airmen from Malmstrom AFB with medals on Aug. 25 in Guernsey.