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Army staff sergeant helps to save man wounded in SLC shooting

<i></i><br/>Army staff sergeant
Lawrence, Nakia

Army staff sergeant


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    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSL) — It was a desperate situation that played out on a city street with a man wounded in an apparent road rage shooting and perhaps only minutes making the difference between life and death.

On April 5, Carlos Martinez was shot on 300 West near 2000 South following a brief exchange with the driver of another car. The other driver went from throwing water bottles to firing shots, the man’s wife told KSL earlier this month.

At the time, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Amber Oaks wasn’t aware she’d be driving up to the scene of a shooting. In fact, she said she’d hoped to avoid the trip along 300 West altogether.

“I wanted to go home and take off my uniform and relax,” Oaks told KSL TV. “I really didn’t want to go to Costco that night.”

And yet the feelings wouldn’t subside that she should just go to the store.

“Intuition was so loud I couldn’t say no,” Oaks recalled.

Though law enforcement and other first responders had not arrived yet, Oaks immediately could tell something was wrong when she pulled up on Martinez’s truck in one of the lanes.

“As I passed it, I knew it was my duty to stop and help,” Oaks said. “They let me know it was a drive-by shooting, and the man had been shot twice.”

One man was already trying to attend to one of Martinez’s wounds.

Oaks said she “jumped right in,” making sure someone had called 911 and then running around to the passenger side and opening the door.

“There was already a mass amount of blood,” Oaks said. “He was shot once on the left side and once on the right side.”

Oaks said she is combat lifesaver certified, and she quickly defaulted to her training with what she had available to her — a man’s leather belt and a traditional tourniquet — in order to slow the blood loss from the man’s arms.

“I put the belt on the left side above the elbow, and I asked the man to take a deep breath and told him it was going to hurt,” Oaks explained. “Then I cinched the belt down as a tourniquet.”

She then applied the traditional tourniquet to the right arm and then a second conventional tourniquet to the left arm above the belt when an officer showed up with one.

“I’ve been so trained on this that it was like second nature for me,” Oaks said. “I was so grateful for the years of training and then hours, the endless hours of training that I’ve been provided and that my leadership has given me because I knew exactly what to do.”

Oaks said it was seven to nine minutes between when she arrived and when the ambulance showed up, and she believed, given the loss of blood, the man may not have made it had she not been there.

“I absolutely believe in my heart and soul that I don’t know if that man would have survived,” Oaks expressed.

She said she believes now that the feelings she had earlier were meant to put her in a position to help the man.

“I will call it intuition, gut instincts,” Oaks said. “I do believe in God and a higher power, and I absolutely believe I was meant to go that way to be placed in the trajectory of that man’s life because I don’t believe it was his time to die.”

Martinez’s family declined to do a new interview but expressed gratitude for the woman’s actions. Family members set up a GoFundMe* account to help offset the unforeseen medical expenses.

A Salt Lake City police spokesman said Friday that investigators were still seeking the shooter from the incident. Oaks was just grateful she was in a place to help make a difference for Martinez.

“I had no idea that I would be there to save a man’s life,” she said.

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