Post written by PA3 Casey Ranel, 8th Dist.
Being a fast thinker, willing to help, and courageous are just a few of the characteristics that describe MST3 Hector A. Concepcion, a pollution investigator from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
Courage, to him, is moving to another country, not fully understanding the English language and being miles and miles away from his family.
“I like to take chances and overcome situations,” said Concepcion. “Having courage means doing something that is out of your comfort zone, voluntarily, and not knowing what the outcome may be.”
On the evening of May 8, 2009, the outcome for a local motorist could have been fatal. Concepcion was at a stop light on Veterans Memorial Blvd., in Metairie, La., when he witnessed two vehicles collide, one of which flipped three times and then hit a tree.
The crushed vehicle was leaking fuel and smoking. Concepcion saw that the motorist was dazed and bleeding from multiple lacerations. Most importantly, he was trapped inside the vehicle.
After several attempts to open the vehicle’s door, Concepcion finally caught a break and was able to release the door and pull the motorist from the vehicle to a safe spot. While awaiting EMS, Concepcion maintained conversation with the motorist and administered first aid to help control the bleeding.
“I acted out of instinct,” said Concepcion. “Moments like that are when you realize why the Coast Guard stresses Semper Paratus, so you are ready to react in the correct and safest manner.”
After briefing the EMS of the motorist’s condition, Concepcion helped remove debris from the road.
“I’m not a hero,” said Concepcion. “Making a difference, all the time, that’s what it’s all about.”
Though Concepcion may pull motorists from burning cars, he has other responsibilities too. He works in the Incident Management Division at Sector New Orleans as a pollution investigator and a federal on-scene coordinator representative. He is the vice president of the Human Relations Committee, where he conducts events for the sector and Coast Guard District Eight. And he coaches baseball to 11-year-olds.
“I like helping and motivating kids at a young age,” said Concepcion. “Kids absorb and analyze everything that you tell or teach them.”
From coaching kids to investigating oil spills, Concepcion does not consider himself a hero.
“A hero should be defined as someone who, by helping and giving everything within his/her power, has the ability to positively change someone’s life,” said Concepcion.
If this is the standard for being a hero, Concepcion definitely makes the cut.
Do you know someone in the Coast Guard that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit button at the top of the page.