Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment, proved the effectiveness of their Automated Electronic Defibrillator and training they had previously received, when a civilian contractor who had been working on the unit’s rooftop at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base went into cardiac arrest, March 6.
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Maj. Wayne Thomas, 1-137th administrative officer and a Dublin, Ohio, resident, reacted to shouts for help from the workers and found the contractor without a pulse and not breathing. First Sgt. Jose Camacho, Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant and a resident of Lancaster, Ohio, and Staff Sgt. Neal Thompson, training non-commissioned officer for Company E, 1-137th Aviation and a Columbus resident, climbed to the roof to assist.
“When I got there, the guy was purple, so we started chest compressions,” Camacho said. Thompson and Camacho alternated with Thomas doing compressions. Thompson called out for the AED, and hooked it up to the contractor. Thompson used to be an AED instructor and went through training on the equipment in 2010.
“The machine shocked the guy three times,” Camacho said. “It worked like clockwork.” Camacho said it was ironic that Thompson had just tested the equipment a couple days before. “I remember because an alarm sounds when you open the box,” Camacho said. AED machines can be found in wall mounted boxes, usually in hallways, in all Ohio National Guard installations.
“He had a heartbeat when we were done with him and the paramedics showed up,” Camacho said. When Hamilton Township paramedics arrived on scene, they took over caring for the contractor.
“It was a relief when the guy finally woke up,” Camacho said. “If it wasn’t for our efforts, I think the guy would have died. It’s serious business, but the machine really works.” After the contractor regained consciousness, he was life flighted to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where he was stabilized.
The 1-137th just went through a safety stand down in February and had medics conduct an AED/CPR brief.
“You walk by the AED and wonder what would happen if you actually have to use it,” Camacho said.
Depending on the remoteness of the location, help may be minutes or hours away. The AED reduces the time it might take to receive life saving care at installations and readiness centers throughout Ohio. With the help of a computerized narrator, the machine talks its user through the process to ensure proper operation of the device as well as to alleviate the stress of the situation. The Ohio Army National Guard has had an AED training program since 2008.
“That machine is awesome,” Camacho said, who asserted it was a good investment to have them at every installation in the state.