Your Navy

Hero doc saves stabbed neighbors, with Marines' help

The doc's training kicked in the moment she heard her neighbor screaming.

The late-night scene on Nov. 7 seemed like combat than an Oceanside, California, apartment complex. Blood was running down the neighbor's back. Voices were shrieking. The woman's husband was on the run.

For a moment, Chief Hospital Corpsman Jaclyn Place wondered whether to rush in or to run away.

"A million things were going through my head in that 15-second run to the back of the building," Place recalled in a Marine Corps news release. "Honestly though, I was just thinking 'corpsman,' every training I had ever had in the military."

Place raced in. Her neighbor Jennifer Barela had been stabbed, severing an artery in her arm. The cut looked deep. Place called for Marine Staff Sgt. Thomas McDonald, who brought a first aid kit from his nearby apartment. Place put the compression bandage from the medical bag onto Barela's arm. By that point, it was clear that Barela's daughter had also been attacked.

The 14-year-old had stab wounds on her face and was bleeding from a cut on the left side of her ribs. The rib cage injury looked serious. Blood pooled under her. She struggled to breathe.

Place applied a seal to the wound that stanched the blood loss while preventing air from being trapped in her chest, which could cause life-threatening complications, 1st Marine Logistics Group said in a Monday news release. Meanwhile, police were responding to the scene in response to the 911 call made by another neighbor, Staff Sgt. Vincent Bryan.

The Marines credited Place's trauma response and courage with saving her neighbors' lives even while the attacker was still on the loose. She received an Impact Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal on March 11 at Camp Pendleton. McDonald and Bryan received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their actions.

"She’s the reason why I have my daughter here still," Jennifer Barela said in the 1st MLG release. "She is family now."

Place said it all came down to teamwork.

"That corpsman-Marine team was amazing," she said. "That dynamic is so sacred. We all knew what to do and worked off each other. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did."

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