Paramedic Cameron Padbury recently stayed at the side of a man who had a grenade stuck in his leg for eight hours.
Padbury and another paramedic had to keep their unidentified 62-year-old patient still inside an ambulance, which was parked outside the University of Alabama Hospital (UAB) emergency room in Birmingham, Ala.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking." Padbury told AL.com. "It was an intense experience. From what they were telling us, if he moved the right way it could go off and we could all die."
The incident began on Oct. 10 when the Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, Ala., told the paramedics that they needed the ambulance to transfer the man to UAB in Birmingham.
The Walker Baptist Medical Center thought the man only had shrapnel in his thigh. However, as the ambulance neared Birmingham, the UAB Hospital issued a dire warning.
"They had a BPD bomb tech look at the x-ray and he said he was confident it was the actual projectile,'' recalled Padbury. "You could tell it was the actual grenade. They directed us not to come into the ER. They had set up a safe zone outside."
However, when the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Padbury ordered his paramedics out of the vehicle.
"I told my crew to get out and go across the street to the safe zone,'' stated Padbury. "But the bomb squad felt it would be in our best interest to have two paramedics in there taking care of the patient."
UAB paramedic Tim Brown, who had been on a different medical case, joined Padbury in the ambulance for several hours while the Birmingham police, ATF, FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation secured the area.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink was driven to Birmingham from Fort Benning, Ga., with an Alabama State Trooper escort at 4:15 a.m on Oct. 11.
"From the initial X-ray, it looked like a 40mm grenade," Sgt. Mensink, a 27-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, told the U.S. Army website.
An UAB doctor volunteered to make a cut in the man's leg, after which Sgt. Mensink would remove the grenade.
"[Sgt. Mensink] explained to us what he was going to do,'' Padbury recalled. "He gave me the option to get out of the ambulance. I wasn't going to leave my patient."
The paramedics were given body armor before a M713 red smoke grenade was successfully removed from the senior. Sgt. Mensink said it could have been fatal if it had blown up.
The elderly patient told authorities that the grenade fired into his thigh while he was taking it apart.