by Airman 1st Class Jessica Hines
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It’s a class all servicemembers go through, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training. A training that when put into a real situation is often the deciding factor between life and death. Some might wonder if they will ever be called upon to perform CPR.
For Tech. Sgt. Eddie Ramirez, a battalion air liaison officer with the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson, Colo., that chance would soon arise.
Just 24-hours after receiving CPR recertification, Sergeant Ramirez was going about his morning physical training session at a local YMCA, Oct. 5, when he noticed a worker running frantically to the aid of a 79-year-old man. Bill, as Sergeant Ramirez knows him, often exercises at the same times he does. Bill was lying on the track when the worker rushed over.
“I immediately went over and asked the worker what was wrong,” said Sergeant Ramirez. “I observed Bill and saw he was turning blue, with swelling in his face.”
At that point, Sergeant Ramirez realized the people standing around him were hesitant to start CPR and might have been nervous by the situation.
“My training was still fresh in my mind, it was like muscle memory,” he said.
Sergeant Ramirez took control.
“I flipped him over and pulled open his shirt and told the worker to start chest compressions while I started breaths,” he said.
Another worker left to retrieve the First Aid and AED kits while Sergeant Ramirez and the worker continued compressions and breaths to the man. They set up the AED and let the machine analyze the man’s condition; after a shock was delivered, the man took one deep breath and stopped.
Sergeant Ramirez went right back to work.
“I wanted to make sure I was giving 30 good compressions while the other worker gave breaths,” he said. “It’s very different than practicing on a mannequin … it kind of freaked me out cause you can feel and hear a clicking from the ribs and sternum, I was also surprised at how his chest went up after a breath.”
Sergeant Ramirez also recalls feeling for a heartbeat.
“That can be odd as well, because the person is cold to the touch,” he said.
A minute or two later, the man began taking choppy and short breaths on his own and Sergeant Ramirez checked his heartbeat again.
“He had a little pigmentation back into his face, but a really weak heartbeat,” he said.
Sergeant Ramirez placed the man in the recovery position and placed towels under his head for support until the emergency medical technicians arrived a few minutes later.
“I know it was because I had just taken the refresher course that I was able to assist like I did … I went back to my instructor and told him the story and thanked him for teaching the course,” Sergeant Ramirez said.
There’s no perfect substitute for performing CPR on a real person other than the mannequins provided in training. Sergeant Ramirez advises, “Take the classes as seriously as you can, because you never know when you’ll need to use it.”
“I just heard Bill got out of the hospital yesterday and is going to be fine,” he said. That is good news for Bill’s family, Sergeant Ramirez and all those who run and teach CPR at Peterson Air Force Base, who heard about the event.
“We’re not only proud of the individual, but as an Air Force member … it’s good to know our process is working,” said Tech. Sgt. John Kortes, acting director of the Peterson Health and Wellness Center and CPR instructor at Peterson AFB.
“We look at CPR as a simple life saving tool — to do something is so much better than doing nothing at all,” Sergeant Kortes said. When the situation arises Sergeant Kortes advises to “remain calm and remember what we’ve taught you.”
According to the American Heart Association, approximately 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. Simply, if more people knew CPR, then more lives could be saved.
AHA also states that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.
Tech. Sgt. Alyse Partridge, life support program director for both the 21st and 50th Space Wings, said that anybody can be CPR certified as long as they have the strength to perform chest compressions and a desire to save a life.
Sergeant Partridge recalls when Sergeant Ramirez’s instructor came to her with the news.
“Staff Sergeant Angel Montes, my only 13th ASOS instructor, came to me the next day and says ‘you’re not going to believe what happened.’”
“We found out that he not only did the CPR, but used the AED, and he knew how to do everything perfectly,” she said. “The AED, in all actuality, is what you really need in those situations, especially when it comes to a patient having a heart attack.”
It’s in the brief moments of a crisis situation when someone can choose to wait for help or step in and be the help; it’s in those moments where lives are saved and every second counts. Some might call it being at the right place at the right time, or simply luck. But, most people also believe that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. For Sergeant Ramirez, that ‘luck’ saved a man’s life, and there’s no substitution.