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Hero who helped save fellow officer’s life honored ahead of air show

Until they wheeled him into the hospital, officer Matt Pearce remembers everything about March 15, the day he was shot multiple times while chasing two suspects through a wooded area of west Fort Worth.

He remembers the chase, the shooting and the helicopter landing in a field to rush him across town. And he remembers a friend, officer Brandi Kamper, helping to save his life.

Kamper, a tactical medical officer, was one of the first people on the scene of the shooting in March, rendering first aid to Pearce despite the area still being an active “hot zone.”

On Friday, Kamper was honored with a ride-along with the Air Force Thunderbirds in an F-16 jet ahead of this weekend’s annual Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show.

Earlier this year, Mayor Betsy Price nominated Kamper as the air show’s Hometown Hero for her role in helping Pearce in March.

After her flight Friday — which lasted almost an hour and took her up to nine G-forces — Kamper was happy with the honor, but she deflected the attention.

“I want to make this clear: There were 350 officers from all over who responded to Matt’s shooting the day he was shot,” she said. “Everybody dropped what they were doing, and everybody came to rescue our brother.”

Kamper’s contribution, in particular, was crucial.

At the scene of the shooting, Kamper applied a tourniquet to Pearce’s right leg, dressed three bullet wounds on his chest and shoulder and used a pressure bandage on his right arm.

Her actions also led to the Police Department bringing back its tactical medic unit, which placed a full-time officer with extensive medical training in each of the city’s five patrol divisions.

And she helped her friend live.

She and Pearce met a few years ago on the city’s north side, where she was a patrol officer and he was a trainee.

As a cop and a former Army medic, Kamper was familiar with working under pressure in a dangerous situation, but not like the shooting in March.

“Not where it was my friend [who was wounded] the way Matt’s my friend,” she said.

Pearce attended Kamper’s flight Friday. He uses a cane less and less each day and still wears a small bandage on the right side of his face.

But Pearce plans to be back at work full time by March, and he knows that might not have been possible without Kamper.

“She and I were great friends before this happened,” Pearce said, “and we’re even better friends now. We would do anything for each other.”

The annual Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show is Saturday and Sunday at Alliance Airport, 2221 Alliance Blvd. (west of Interstate 35W in far north Fort Worth).

Featured performers include the Shockwave Jet Truck, Bell 429 Global Ranger, Greg Shelton and Wing Walker Ashley Key, Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet TAC Demo Team, David Martin Aerobatics and, as a grand finale, the Air Force Thunderbirds.

Gates open both days at 9 a.m. for the free event, but note that parking prices start at $30 per car. Parking discounts are available at allianceairshow.com.

Shows both days will begin about 11 a.m., with the Thunderbirds flying about 3 p.m. Times are subject to change.

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