The right place at the right time: Airmen respond during medical emergency

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Amber E. N. Jacobs
  • 934th Airlift Wing

No one expected that a burst water pipe in the 934th Airlift Wing dining facility at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station would put two Airmen from the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in the right place at the right time, but that just so happened to be the case on Jan. 5, 2018.

For Master Sgt. Zak Johnson, an emergency medical technician for the St. Paul fire department, and Tech. Sgt. Jesse Guest, a medic firefighter in Arkansas, both traditional reserve aeromedical technicians for the 934th AES, it was just a typical training day. Inconvenienced by the closed dining facility the two Airmen decided to go to lunch off base.

“We were on duty and left for lunch around 11 a.m.,” Guest recalled. “Since the dining facility was not open we went off base to get something to eat over in Eagan. While we were standing in line trying to decide what we were going to eat the guy at the register was like ‘well we are going to slow down service because we are calling 911.’”

Noticing that there was a woman who was unconscious at a table it was at that point that both Guest and Johnson took action. 

“She was with two of her co-workers, so all three were sitting at a table,” Johnson explained. “At first I thought it was either a stroke or seizure, but then we couldn’t find her pulse so that was kind of a rule out for seizure.”

“We asked the manager if they had an AED since she started to turn a little blue and she wasn’t responding to painful stimuli, so I assisted her to the ground and reassessed to make sure she still didn’t have a pulse, she didn’t,” Guest continued.

At that point, Johnson ran to his truck to get a pocket mask while Guest began doing chest compressions. Guest and Johnson continued four rounds of CPR until the fire department arrived on scene and took over.

“When the firefighters arrived, they asked if we had any medical training and when we told them that we did they were like ‘well can you keep helping us with this because more hands are better,’” Guest explained.

Eventually the local responders were able to transfer the woman to a nearby hospital, where she stabilized.

Thanks to Guest and Johnson’s quick actions and medical training, the woman was stabilized and is doing fine. 

“We never would have been there if the dining hall had been open,” Johnson reflected.

To anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation in the future, Guest said, “Don’t be scared to actually act when there is an emergency or when someone is under duress. Whenever you are in an emergency go back to your training and keep it simple.”