MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
September 15th, 2023, was an ordinary Friday evening for Cpl. Nicholas Christensen, who was driving back to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and chatting with Lance Cpl. Ethan Feaster. Suddenly, a car turned left into oncoming traffic causing a horrific collision. Two of the motorcycle riders directly in front of Christensen’s truck swerved to miss the car, but a third motorcyclist was unable to avoid the collision.
“I blocked the road with my truck and ran to [the injured motorcyclist],” said Christensen, a field instructor with Weapons Field and Training Battalion. “I saw the rider was severely injured and ran to get my medical bag.”
Christensen has extensive military medical training such as the Basic Combat Lifesaver Course, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and an advanced course called Valkryie, which teaches phlebotomy and transfusions. Due to his medical training, he has maintained a medical supply bag in his truck.
“Thank God he had his medical bag,” said Feaster, a Marine rifleman and native of Redmond, Wash. “He really saved the day.”
Christensen, a native of St. Charles, Ill., immediately began triaging the motorcyclist. One of the other motorcyclists, Lance Cpl. Ramyar Mohammedali, a land surveyor with 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, ran over to assist. Christensen noticed the motorcycle rider had an Eagle, Globe and Anchor on his jacket and assumed the rider was either an active-duty Marine or Marine veteran.
“We realized he was not breathing, so I took off his helmet to help open an airway,” said Christensen. “We learned the motorcycle rider’s name was Mike.”
While holding Mike’s head, Christensen turned him into a recovery position on the asphalt with the cut to his head facing upward to help stop the bleeding. Mike started breathing again as Feaster held his head and Christensen wrapped it with bandages.
"It is pretty intense and remarkable what Christensen and Feaster did. Fortunately for that Marine, these two were there. If they wouldn’t have been there, a very different outcome likely would have happened." 1st Sgt. James Grunbacher, company first sergeant from Weapons Field and Training Battalion
Within about five minutes, local police arrived on the scene.
“We thought the police department officers would take over, but they didn’t have medical supplies,” said Feaster.
The police officers observed the situation and decided to let Christensen continue to take the lead on the care he was providing to Mike. Feaster continued to hold Mike’s head as the Marines did not have a neck brace.
"I talked to Mike; I told him he is a fighter, and you are a Marine,” said Christensen. “If I stopped talking to him, his breathing would slow.”
“It is pretty intense and remarkable what Christensen and Feaster did,” said 1st Sgt. James Grunbacher, company first sergeant from Weapons Field and Training Battalion and a native of Pinole, California. “Fortunately for that Marine, these two were there. If they wouldn’t have been there, a very different outcome likely would have happened.”
About ten minutes after the collision, emergency medical services (EMS) arrived on scene and immediately called for a helicopter. Christensen briefed EMS personnel on the medical care he had provided, and EMS transferred Mike onto a stretcher. Due to the high quality of care provided by the Marines, EMS didn’t have any additional medical care to provide.
Christensen’s actions demonstrate how training in the Marine Corps can be applied to everyday scenarios.
“If it wasn’t for that medical kit and Cpl. Christensen’s expertise, we wouldn’t know if he was going to survive or not,” said Mohammedali, who has visited Mike every day at the hospital and has kept Christensen updated. “It looked ugly.”
Christensen's Marine Corps service is coming to an end this year; however, he envisions a future marked by continued service. He plans to attend the fire academy early next year and then pursue EMS training in Texas.
“Cpl. Christensen is a true hero. He not only provided lifesaving aid but took charge of the situation and did so regardless of his own safety,” said Mohammedali. “Cpl. Christensen actions saved the life of a Marine that evening.”