Medics jump into action to help burn victim

By Spc. Joshua Syberg | Indiana National Guard | June 16, 2020


Mike started his day like every other day in the normal fashion by buttoning
up his black chefs jacket, getting his matching hat on, tying up the usual white sneakers and
heading to work at Second Helpings, which provides more than 90 local nonprofit agencies more
than 1 million meals each year.
However, to Mike’s unfortunate surprise, the day would not go according to the usual
plan. He would be attacked by an unusual suspect, a tilt kettle.
This particular title kettle, also known as a steam jacketed kettle, was filled to the brim
with 10 gallons of boiling beef stock while it sat on its pivot arm. The beef stock would normally
go toward meals sent to food banks and kitchens all over Indiana.
Instead of going all over Indiana, it went all over Mike’s legs.
“As it tilted it just poured straight down my legs hitting from mid thigh all the way down to my
feet,” said Mike Gilson, a kitchen assistant for Second Helpings. “As I was kind of panicking
and trying to run down the hall, they sat me down in a chair and before I even realized it three
troops had ice bags, ice packs and wet towels. It was like a natural response reaction for them.
They put burn cream on and bandaged me up. They were awesome and incredible.”
Luckily for Mike, the National Guardsmen assigned to assist Second Helpings that day
were combat medics.
The three troops who rushed to help Mike were Cpl. Ethan Collins, Cpl. Luisa Kolb and
Spc. Yoonho Lee, combat medics with 215th Area Support Medical Company, 81st Troop
Command from Franklin, Indiana.
“At the time I was chopping up onions and veggies and suddenly I heard Mike scream
super loud, “ Lee said. “ I stopped what I was doing and I ran over there. There was hot soup all
over the floor so I could immediately tell that he poured hot soup over his pants.”
“I was cooking and heard a very loud bang,” Cole said. “We got Mike out of the kitchen
and sat him down. We applied ice on the burns and kept applying until the pain was going away.”
“I was in the dock area when I heard Mike scream and then I saw Cpl. Cole and Spc. Lee
already providing medical aid,” Collins said. “Cpl. Cole was able to find burn medication in the
medical locker that they keep supplied here. We were able to put medication on him and wrap
him up.”
All three medics felt their quick response was nothing extraordinary and credit one thing
they all share— their military training.
However, it was extraordinary. Their lightning fast reaction prevented Mike from feeling
a need to go to the hospital and significantly reduced the damage to his legs and feet. This act of
selfless service garnered all three soldiers with the Army Achievement Medal.
This medal is awarded to soldiers while performing in any way with the Army in a noncombat
field, distinguished himself/herself apart from his/her comrades by meritorious service or
“That’s one of the strengths of the National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Greg Motz, who
presented the award. “We don’t come to the community. We come from the community.
Especially with a medic or someone who has medical training, it’s just putting that person at the
right place and the right time who knows what to do. When those factors bump together you get
a positive outcome you might not have otherwise had.”
These medics not only made a positive outcome for Mike but also for the countless
families in need they are helping to feed.