According to the Army Times, it all began when Sgt. Trey Troney, a 20-year-old non-commissioned officer, was on his way home from Fort Bliss, Texas. He was on a holiday break and headed for Raleigh, Mississippi when he came across the scene of an accident.
He was in Sweetwater, Texas when he spotted the crashed truck on the side of the road. The driver, Jeff Udger, was “slumped over the steering wheel.” Two other men stopped to help and they got straight to work helping Troney pry open the driver’s side door.
According to the Fort Bliss Bugle, Troney saw that Udger was in trouble and acted quickly to help him. “I was in a pair of jogging pants and a T-shirt on the side of a highway and somebody’s life depended on me slightly knowing a little bit (about emergency medical care). It wasn’t anything crazy (that I knew), but to (Udger), it was his world.”
Udger had a head wound, so Troney took off his brand new “Salute to Service” Saints hoodie. He then wrapped it around Udger’s head in order to help stop the bleeding.
Udger, who was still conscious, joked with Troney about the choice of “bandage.” “Well, this is Cowboy country, so I don’t know how I feel about you wrapping me up in a Saints hoodie.”
Udger was not out of danger, though. Troney spotted another problem.
He saw that the man’s chest was not moving on the left side. He realized then that Udger’s lung had collapsed.
Fortunately, his brigade recently did a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. He looked for any leftover medical supplies from that in his Jeep and found some.
He spotted a “Needle Chest Compression, or NCD, and an Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK” in his vehicle. He grabbed them and raced back to Udger’s side.
And this is where another need for improvisation came in. He’d had sufficient training with the NCD to know what to do, almost without thinking. But, the NCD needle was too small.
He would not be able to access the collapsed lung in order to relieve the pressure. He had to think fast.
While seeking a solution to the problem he came across a ballpoint pen and inspiration hit. Troney explained what he did.
“I took the NCD and put it right in the hole and kind of wiggled (the pen) in with my hand in between the ribs and you just started to see the bubbles come out of the tip, and I was like, ‘OK, we’re good.’” A state trooper had just arrived at the scene and witnessed what happened.
Astonished, he asked Troney, “Did you just put an ink pen between his ribs?” Troney admitted that he did and the surprised trooper remarked that Udger was not on any pain medications during the procedure.