Think playing video games is little more than a great way to waste time? Then you haven't met Paxton Galvanek. Last November, the twenty-eight year-old helped rescue two victims from an overturned SUV on the shoulder of a North Carolina interstate. As the first one on the scene, Galvanek safely removed both individuals from the smoking vehicle and properly assessed and treated their wounds, which included bruises, scrapes, head trauma and the loss of two fingers.
His medical background? None - other than what he's learned playing as a medic in the computer game America's Army.
The first-person shooter is developed and distributed by the U.S. Army. Though part of its mission is to promote its military namesake, America's Army is a fully-featured game that takes players through a virtual representation of real-life soldiering, from basic training to the field of battle. To play as a medic class, players must sit through extensive medical training tutorials based on real-life classes.
Lucky for the two survivors that Paxton Galvanek didn't zone out during the training, as the gamer credits this experience with teaching him how to handle himself in an emergency situation.
"In the case of this accident, I evaluated the situation and placed priority on the driver of the car who had missing fingers," he said. "I then recalled that in section two of the medic training, I learned about controlled bleeding. I noticed that the wounded man had severe bleeding that he could not control. I used a towel as a dressing and asked the man to hold the towel on his wound and to raise his hand above his head to lessen the blood flow which allowed me to evaluate his other injuries which included a cut on his head."
By the time help arrived in the form of -- ironically enough -- an Army soldier, the individuals were in stable condition and awaiting the paramedics.
Galvanek's decisions were lauded by game project director Colonel Casey Wardynski. "Because of the training he received in America's Army's virtual classroom, Mr. Galvanek had mastered the basics of first aid and had the confidence to take appropriate action when others might do nothing. He took the initiative to assess the situation, prioritize actions and apply the correct procedures... Paxton is a true hero."
According to the developers of America's Army, this is the second time one of their users has reportedly applied techniques learned in the game to real-life emergency situations. You can find more information about the game at www.americasarmy.com