BAGHDAD – Two soldiers deployed to Syria jumped in to save a local man from a grisly fate after one of his arms became stuck in a running generator.

The incident took place on March 24 at a U.S. military base in northeast Syria where Sgt. Lauren Shalabi and Spc. Heather Tarasewicz are both assigned. The two soldiers spoke to Task & Purpose last week

Shalabi, who is assigned to the New Jersey National Guard’s 250th Brigade Support Battalion, said she was about to eat a salad at an on-base market when its owner came looking for help. A local man working as a contractor, the owner told her, had become stuck in a generator.

Once at the generator, Shalabi could see the man’s arm was roughly elbow-deep in the machine’s gearing and  was completely stuck. Although he was not screaming, the man was clearly in pain, she told Task & Purpose.

Shalabi, a New Jersey police officer at home, reacted without thinking: “I just pulled him out.”

By the time Shalabi freed the man from the generator, he had lost so much blood that there was a puddle on the ground, she said.

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As Shalabi pulled the man out, Tarasewicz, an Army Combat Medic with the New Jersey National Guard’s 114th Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, arrived at the scene. She quickly realized the man was cut deep enough to expose part of his bone, and  immediately began treating him by applying pressure to his wound to control the bleeding. Thankfully none of his major arteries had been severed.

Tarasewicz said she also made sure that the man had not lost consciousness or been electrocuted.

“He was perfectly aware of what was going on, saying he had been cut by the generator,” she said.

Shalabi, who speaks Arabic, explained to the man Tarasewicz’s treatments, including putting gauze on his wound and wrapping up his arm. She also asked if he had passed out.

Eventually, they walked the man to a place where he could sit down. Tarasewicz checked to see if the man still had blood flowing to his fingers and made sure he was not suffering from symptoms of shock, including nausea and dizziness.

The man assured the two soldiers that he had been hurt worse in the past, when he was shot in the stomach by the Islamic State group, Shalabi said.

He was ultimately treated by a U.S. military surgical team, which removed a fragmented section of his arm bone. Shalabi credited the surgical team for their expert treatment of the man.

Treating severe injuries is nothing new for Tarasewicz as a combat medic with extensive emergency room experience, nor was Shalabi fazed by the site of exposed flesh and bone.

“I work in Jersey City,” Shalabi said. “It’s pretty much high crime, a lot of stabbings and shootings, and just dead bodies. I’m used to that, so seeing that is nothing to me. It’s just an ordinary day at work.”

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