113th Wing airmen credited with saving a life

  • Published
  • By Capt. Chelsi Johnson, 113th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, performed life-saving CPR on a civilian jogger at the Lincoln Memorial, June 4, 2020.

The airmen, who were posted at the Lincoln Memorial supporting the civil disturbance mission, began walking down the steps, heading towards the Vietnam Memorial, when they heard a cry for help.

"As we were walking to our next post, a civilian waved us down, asking for help," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Nicholas, wing weapons manager.  "Hearing the urgency in their voice, we ran down the stairs and arrived on-scene, finding a female unconscious lying face down on the ground.  We took immediate action, braced her neck and rolled her over so we could assess her situation."

Assisting Nicholas was Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Morales, crew chief, and Staff Sgt. Jacen Vaughan, avionics technician with the 113th Wing.  Vaughan, a certified CPR instructor, sensed the severity of the situation and began directing airmen on what to do.

"The patient took a gasp of air, and her pulse started to weaken," said Vaughan. "I told a person to get an AED from park police and told Morales to begin CPR."

Morales, who’s only done CPR in training, jumped into action and began chest compressions on the patient.

"It was my first-time doing CPR on a real person," said Morales. "My training kicked in, so we were able to assist the civilians in doing CPR."

Morales and Vaughan continued CPR with the assistance of two other civilians, changing out as they got tired.  As the two airmen were performing life-saving measures, Nicholas grabbed the patient's phone and dialed the last person she called.

"The last person she called was her husband," said Nicholas, who was able to inform him of the situation. "I asked him does she have any allergies or medical conditions we need to know about."

During the initial response, Nicholas radioed for any National Guard medical team in the area to respond to the situation.  Three members from the 113th Medical Group arrived on-scene within minutes.

"When we arrived on-scene, we were being flagged down by D.C. Guard members, and noticed a military police officer running with an AED," said Maj. Telisha Johnson, a nurse for the 113th Medical Group.  "We got to the scene and found the patient on the ground unresponsive, and CPR was already started."

Johnson stopped the CPR to assess the patient.  She checked the patient's pulse and confirmed she was not breathing.  Johnson started chest compressions again while her team got the AED out of the bag and hooked up. 

"We analyzed the AED, and she did end up needing to be shocked a couple of times," said Johnson. "We rotated out technician and nurse for compressions, while others were giving respirations through the pocket mask."

For eight minutes, the airmen performed CPR on the patient before U.S. Park Police medical evacuation arrived on-scene and resumed command of the situation.

"We continued CPR while they were putting her on the stretcher," said Johnson. "I loaded up with them [in the helicopter] and continued doing compressions trying to save the patient."

Within 30 to 40 seconds in the air, the patient was breathing.  By the time the helicopter arrived at the hospital, the patient was breathing on her own. 

Nicholas, who was communicating with the patient's husband during this situation, called him once the helicopter departed for the hospital. 

"I called him, and he did not answer but called me back," said Nicholas. "He let me know that she was stable and doing okay and that he really wanted to thank our men for the work we did, jumping in to save her."

Johnson was incredibly grateful for the team of airmen who responded to the situation.

"Without them, I don't know what would have happened.  We made a save today."