Airman saves life, becomes Hometown Hero

Senior Airman Aliah Leon works for the 21st Security Forces Squadron in electronic security systems on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Leon was recognized as an American Red Cross Hometown Hero after saving a man's life in 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Bertain)

“I thought it was a vehicle accident,” said Senior Airman Aliah Leon, 21st Security Forces Squadron electronic security systems. “Everyone was out of their cars looking over the edge. I knew something was wrong, but I never imagined someone jumped over the cliff.”

Returning from a 2019 road trip to the top of Pikes Peak, a 14,115-foot-tall mountain near Colorado Springs, Leon noticed a group of people looking over the guard rail. To her surprise, she discovered a man had attempted suicide. Leon and two other men rushed down to assess the situation.

She immediately evaluated the man’s injuries, asking if the man could move his toes to find out if he had lost any motor functions. Leon gathered medical supplies and blankets from nearby onlookers and applied pressure to his face to prevent blood loss while first responders hurried to the scene.

“Luckily, even though his face was practically ‘degloved,’ he was still able to answer my questions so I could better assess his injuries,” said Leon. “Once fire and an ambulance were able to get to the scene, two firemen came down, and we were able to get him on a stretcher. Due to the steep and rocky terrain, we actually had to carry him back up the side of the cliff by hand, which was incredibly difficult.”

A few days after the incident, Leon discovered the man survived and was starting a long recovery process. She said it was a huge release of stress, knowing he was going to be ok.

“Knowing that you helped save someone’s life is the most amazing feeling,” Leon gushed. “There’s just nothing like it.”

Leon said that being in security forces gave her many tools to prepare for and deal with life-saving scenarios, such as Self Aid Buddy Care training, teaching basic first aid and life support, and the squadron’s many resilience training days.

“Not everyone is comfortable in these kinds of situations,” Leon admitted. “Thankfully, as a first responder, I am trained to be comfortable, because we have to be. So, without even thinking about it, I was ready to run down there and help as best as I could.”

Leon’s former flight chief, Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Robinson, 21st SFS non-commissioned officer in charge of physical security, recalls that Leon has always been one to step up to the plate.

“She [Leon] took on every one of my challenges that I put in front of her and shows time and time again what she’s capable of,” Robinson said.

On March 6, 2020, Leon was recognized as an American Red Cross Hometown Hero for her actions.

Leon expressed a newfound confidence and sense of preparedness for anything as a result of this experience.

“After discovering I could definitely handle a situation like that, I think it mentally prepared me if I am ever going to have to help my fellow Airmen,” said Leon. “Now I know…I know I can contribute, and that gave me so much confidence in my job. I know I can help.”