Cadets respond to emergency on Manitou Incline

Cadets 3rd Class Patrick Casa and Brianna Ramey pose for a photo on the Manitou Incline Aug. 16, 2014. Shortly after taking this photo, the cadets responded to a medical emergency involving a teenager who injured his ankle and leg on the path. (courtesy photo/Cadet 3rd Class Patrick Casa)

Cadets 3rd Class Patrick Casa and Brianna Ramey pose for a photo on the Manitou Incline Aug. 16, 2014. Shortly after taking this photo, the cadets responded to a medical emergency involving a teenager who injured his ankle and leg on the path. (courtesy photo/Cadet 3rd Class Patrick Casa)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- You can take cadets off the Air Force Academy, but you can't take the Air Force Academy out of a cadet.

Cadets 3rd Class Brianna Ramey and Patrick Casa went to the Manitou Incline on Aug. 16, looking to spend their "leg day" working out off campus, but they ended up saving a young hiker's leg instead.

Ramey and Casa had just reached the Incline's false summit when they saw the injured hiker. He and a friend had been hiking down the Incline when one of them tripped and fell, twisting his ankle and opening a 4-inch gash along his leg.

Casa dialed 911 around 3:20 p.m., he said. The operator connected him to El Paso County Search and Rescue, a local nonprofit that provides search-and-rescue services under the authority of the county sheriff and works with other counties through a cooperative agreement with the Colorado Search and Rescue Board.

Ramey stopped the bleeding with a bandana, used the Incline itself to elevate the hiker's leg, and used a fruit punch pouch as an icepack, she said. She used the rest of her water to rinse off the wound.

El Paso County Search and Rescue volunteers came down from the top of the Incline with some basic medical supplies, Ramey said. They re-dressed the wound and put a brace on the injured hiker's ankle. The rescue team started pulling the hiker to the top of the Incline around 5 p.m., and he reached the top an hour later. From there, rescuers probably took him to a local hospital via Barr Trail, Ramey said.

Retired Army Col. Patricia Baxter, a member of El Paso County Search and Rescue who responded to the incident, wrote a letter to express her appreciation for the cadets' involvement.

"Their assistance ... directly helped expedite the up-haul of this patient," Baxter wrote.

Ramey said she felt good about getting to use the Self-Aid and Buddy Care skills that cadets learn at the Academy, but both she and Casa said they don't feel like they're anything special.

"We were just at the right place at the right time to help out," Casa said. "We just did what we thought was right."

Lt. Col. Tracy Hunter, the air officer commanding for Cadet Group 2, recognized Ramey and Casa, who are assigned to Cadet Squadron 28 and CS 17 respectively, in a commander's call Aug. 21.

"It's an honor knowing that people like Cadet Casa and Cadet Ramey are in the military," said Cadet 1st Class Cameron Fierro, the cadet in charge of Cadet Group 2. "All the training in the world doesn't amount to anything if you're not willing to act, but these two didn't hesitate a second."