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CPR training helps save Airman’s life

By Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


Shuffling into the building early in the morning, Airmen make their way to their first meeting of the day. The building is quiet, except for the chatter from Airmen around the table. As they settle into their chairs, a loud “Get an AED!” rings out in the hallway. Thinking it is a drill, the group gets up to go see what is going on. This was not a drill.

In the break room, a hectic crowd forms around the Staff Sergeant who’s turning purple from a lack of oxygen. Members of the crowd take off to find the Automated External Defibrillator within the building, while others tend to the sergeant. One Airman began chest compressions, knowing very well this could be a matter of life and death.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Thomas, Air Combat Command F-35 Weapons Sustainment Team member, had to put his CPR and first-aid training to the test.

Through his actions and knowledge of CPR, he was nominated and subsequently received the Vanguard Award, which is awarded to service members who have saved a life.

According to Thomas, the doctor treating the female Staff Sergeant had never seen CPR done more perfectly. She might’ve not survived had it not been for the proper execution of Thomas’ training.

“That was awesome to hear from the cardiologist,” Thomas said.

Many actions go into performing CPR such as chest compressions, calling 911 for assistance, and locating an AED.

“It’s one of those techniques that you hope you won’t ever have to do, but you always need to be fully prepared for it,” said Master Sgt. Anthony De La Cruz, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II specialist section chief. 

De La Cruz was with Thomas administering compressions and helping to preserve the life of his fellow Airman.

“We get [training] so much over the years that it is second nature and you don’t have to think,” Thomas said.

Thomas attributes his ability to react to the situation from the years of CPR and first-aid training he has received while in the Air Force and encourages members to stay up-to-date on their training.

“Don’t be afraid to initiate the response, even if you’re not 100% sure on what to do,” said De La Cruz. “There will be people around you that won’t hesitate to help.”

The actions of the individuals involved saved this Airman’s life because of a team effort, not just one person.

“It was a huge group effort,” Thomas said. “Every single person was just as important as the next in making sure that her life was saved.”

Someone who was presumably lifeless was brought back thanks to the heroics of a few individuals. Through their ability to spring into action, following the CPR and first-aid training they had gained throughout their years in the military, the Air Force didn’t lose an Airman that day.


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