When Jeremy Kilburn broke his leg hiking while through northern California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest with longtime pal Dan Grasso, he did what anyone would do: He radioed for help.
But after the California Highway Patrolman who responded to the distress call became injured himself, Kilburn did something very few are capable of doing: He used his background as an Air Force trauma surgeon to save the man's life.
CHP paramedic Officer Tony Stanley had just stepped off the helicopter which was perched on a rock platform 50 yards away from Kilburn and Grasso when the blades of the chopper struck him in the back of the head, fracturing his skull and knocking him out.
"I knew that for him to have a chance of surviving, I would have to get Jeremy to him," Grasso told the San Jose Mercury News. He grabbed Kilburn and together they hopped down the hillside towards the unconscious Stanley.
"I cannot even imagine the pain Dr. Kilburn was in, unable to walk, when he rolled down the hill to the location of our injured officer," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Without regard to his own injuries and pain, Dr. Kilburn performed critical lifesaving steps, ultimately saving the life of our officer."
Once they arrived, Kilburn immediately went to work establishing an airway and applying pressure to Stanley's head to stop the bleeding.
Elizabeth Fitch and Bryce Halbert, the camp counselors who lent Kilburn and Grasso the radios they used to call the California Highway Patrol, assisted Kilburn with their first aid knowledge. They loaded Stanley onto the helicopter, and Kilburn and Fitch kept him stable for the duration of the flight to a hospital in Redding, 41 miles away.
"He's not the kind of guy to take a lot of credit for something like this," Grasso said. "He says 'That's my job, I do this every day'. That's for him to say. The rest of us will still call him a hero."