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Posted 1/31/2018

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By Dr. Michael Izard-Carroll
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


It was a seasonably cold day in Buffalo, NY the morning of Dec. 21, 2017. As the traffic on the I-190N moseyed along, about an hour shy of the rush hour madness, Jean Brockner was making her way toward her office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District. The sight of two vehicles blocking the traffic in the right lane caught Jean’s eye and she immediately pulled off to the side of the highway. She turned on her emergency lights and proceeded to call 911. As she put on her emergency vest and made her way to the vehicles, she knew the accident victims needed help—and fast. By the time a State Trooper had appeared on the scene, and prior to the arrival of the EMS team, Brockner had already administered critical first aid to one of the injured motorists.  

Ms. Brockner’s selfless heroism is known in the Western New York community and deservedly, she’s been previously recognized for assisting others in critical need. In 2012, Col. Vincent Quarles, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District South, presented her with the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service. According to the citation, she “stepped up and assisted no less than four members of the Afghanistan South district when medical issues have arisen” and “provided, not only initial care, but also personal concern and assistance.” The Commander’s Award for Civilian Service is a unique and relatively rare honor to receive, which is a testament of Ms. Brockner’s impact in her overseas mission.

“The main reason why I wanted to go was to be able to serve my country, the Department of Defense, the Army, and the Army Corps of Engineers—and for self-worth,” said Brocker.

Instances of Ms. Brockner’s personal courage spill over decades. In 2003, she saved a co-worker’s life by administering a defibrillator and AED; he had passed out in the parking lot. Twice in 2006 she had assisted co-workers who were suffering from cardiac issues. In 2007, Ms. Brockner administered first aid to a cyclist who was hit by a car just outside of the Buffalo District gate. In each situation, she was ready and willing to help.

“Jean Brockner has provided the Buffalo District with an intangible and seldom recognized benefit of her experience and practical knowledge relating to emergency response and first aid,” said Bill Pioli, Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Buffalo District.  “When I think that one earnest individual can do more to prevent accidents by personal involvement than a boatload of safety signs, I think of Jean as that engaged worker. She has been the conscience and motivator of innovative thinking for not only the Buffalo District First Aid Team but also similar teams while she served overseas. We do not say it enough, ‘you are appreciated!’”.

Because of her expertise in emergency response care, Ms. Brockner has run the Buffalo District’s first aid station on several occasions during which Buffalo Headquarters has opened up the Black Rock Lock to the public. Most recently, she ran the first aid station for the Erie Canal bicentennial birthday event held in Aug. 2017.  

“I find it to be an honor to be able to do this for the Army Corps of Engineers and for my community where I reside. I have the best of both worlds serving the country and serving my community,” said Brockner.

For most, if not all of Ms. Brockner’s experiences in which she answered the call of duty, she was there at the right time and the right place. But it takes more than simply being in a situation to make things happen. The Army Values are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Soldiers learn early on in basic combat what these values mean but they hold true for the civilian service as well. Ms. Brockner’s actions have shown that she takes these values to heart, whether on duty or off duty. Her selfless service and personal courage are an example for soldiers and civilians alike.

Buffalo District Corps of Engineers First Aid Safety Management USACE