By Staff Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A Peterson-Schriever Garrison noncommissioned officer was recognized by the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming, March 20, 2021. Their quick response and thinking during a traumatic incident saved the life of a member of the local community in a Colorado Springs laundromat on March 8, 2020.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Mendoza-Anaya, 21st Force Support Squadron unit training manager, was doing his laundry at a local laundromat when another patron suddenly passed out.
“I heard a guy scream and looked over like everyone else did; it was a loud scream,” said Mendoza-Anaya. “He [the guy] started to shake, went stiff and fell over hitting the front of his forehead on a metal chair nearby. Then [he] smacked the back of his head on the ground and started shaking.”
Mendoza-Anaya sprang into action, rushing to the man’s side. The man was now convulsing in a steadily growing pool of blood from his head wounds.
“At first I didn’t see anyone running towards him. I ran over, got down and asked him if [he] was okay, but he was still shaking and unresponsive,” Mendoza-Anaya said. “I then remembered people who are having seizures tend to sometimes bite on their tongue. I started yelling at everyone around if they had a pen or a pencil because I didn’t want to put my finger in his mouth and have him chomp on it.”
Mendoza-Anaya recognized the seizure, but by the time he got to the individual it was too late, as he had already bit his tongue almost clean off. Now, not only was blood coming from his head wound, there was blood pooling quickly in his mouth.
“I had someone call 9-1-1. I directed another person to check the individual’s bags to see if he had any medications that he needed,” Mendoza-Anaya said. “I then took off my sweater and wrapped it around his head in case he had another seizure. I didn’t want him to cause further damage to his neck or head.”
The individual then started to lose consciousness and lost the ability to swallow due to the blood pooling in his mouth causing him to choke.
“When I recognized this I started to get scared and tried to carefully tilt him over, so at least the blood in his mouth would be able to run out onto the ground. I tried to keep him awake, but he fell asleep,” Mendoza-Anaya said.
An ambulance with first responders arrived and assumed emergency care from Mendoza-Anaya.
“They put a neck brace on him, he woke up and was distraught and confused. I don’t think he knew what happened to him, but he lived. I was a little shaken up,” Mendoza-Anaya said.
He credits his quick thinking and response to his past experiences as a Defender and his U.S. Air Force training.
“I was a security forces Airman at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana before coming to Peterson AFB. I retrained in 2019 to unit training. In security forces the training we are put through mimics high-stress scenarios. So when you think about how often we train, stressful situations are something you get used to.”
Mendoza-Anaya also gives credit to his mentor and uncle, Tim, who passed away in January of this year.
“He was a state parole officer, he did a lot of cool things and growing up I would look up to him,” Mendoza-Anaya said. “He inspired me to be in the first responder realm. He would also put me and other family members in scenarios and ask us what we would do and teach us how to respond to different things if we ever found ourselves in those situations.”
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jamila Edgerson, 21st Force Support Squadron operations officer, who works with Mendoza-Anaya said she is glad Jason is being recognized for his life-saving efforts and he truly deserves it.
“Jason is one of the hardest working staff sergeants I know. He reaches out far beyond his unit training manager duties and assists with any and everything when asked,” Edgerson said. “Jason not only helps the front office but he steps up and helps the mission support group when they are in need.”
Mendoza-Anaya received a certificate and a plaque from the American Red Cross for his life saving efforts. He says it is an honor to serve his local community.
“All of this is new, exciting and a little bit embarrassing because I’m just a normal guy, but I understand why it is important to recognize individuals for things like this.”