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459 ARW Reservist saves life of collapsed cashier

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rebecca A. Garcia
  • 459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Training, quick reaction and teamwork helped save a Joint Team Andrews member's life last month at the base commissary when a cashier collapsed at the register and a page for a nurse or doctor came across the speaker Feb. 16.

Major Heather Everly, a traditional Reservist flight nurse with the 459th Aeromedical Squadron and MedSTAR Transport, was shopping at the commissary after a make-up Unit Training Assembly day, when she responded to the overhead page for medical assistance.

On scene, Major Everly was told that the woman had a seizure and collapsed, which Major Everly thought would make for a relatively uncomplicated response, but then she noticed the woman was not breathing and there was no pulse.

"I just did what I've been trained to do," said Major Everly. "I focused on the patient and directing the people around me in order to save her life."

Major Everly stated that the conditions (not having her regular medical equipment with her) made things more difficult, but that she believes the quick reaction of the commissary staff, having an Automated External Defibrillator on site and the training of those who responded were key in helping save the patient's life.

The medical response was a concerted effort. Major Everly directed and delivered chest compressions while a male bystander administered breath using a T-shirt for a barrier - a standard safety precaution.

An AED - used for the diagnoses and electrical treatment of cardiac arrhythmias - was given to Major Everly by the commissary staff. The AED determined she had a shockable rhythm. After two cycles of CPR and shock, there was still no pulse, but then the patient began trying to breath, said Major Everly.

When the emergency medical technicians arrived from Malcolm Grow Medical Center, their equipment was used and two more shocks were delivered by Sandra Palmer, a civilian EMT.

After the fourth shock, the patient woke up and started breathing - awake, but confused, said Major Everly. She was taken to the emergency room at MGMC, where she was stabilized by a physician, Dr. Ann Egland, who had also been in contact with the ambulance on scene.

Doctor Egland confirmed that the patient was transported to Washington Hospital Center Cardiac Catheterization laboratory for Emergency Cardiac care and was discharged home Saturday.

Doctor Egland praised all the efforts of the people who helped resuscitate the patient and said, "[Major Everly's] quick action as a good samaritan resulted in saving this person's life."

The company that transported the patient was MedSTAR Transport, the same company Major Everly works for in her civilian capacity, and it was her crew that conducted the flight.

"I really appreciate it. [Major Everly] was awesome," said Rena Dial, Andrews Commissary store director. "Lord, thank you that [all of the Team Andrews members that assisted] were in here. [Major Everly] was a Godsend."

Ms. Dial also said that this incident highlighted the importance of training and staying current on CPR.

There were several people who helped with this Joint Team Andrews effort who deserve recognition: the commissary staff, professionals from the MGMC, 316th Civil Engineer Squadron fire emergency services; Master Sgt. Mark Abrahamson, Tech Sgt. Thomas Tormey, Jason Hofe, Senior Airman Timothy Mulvaney, Senior Airman Terrell Thomas, Airman 1st Class Steven Hjerstedt, Ronald Murphy and Joseph Lewis and Major Everly.

Everything happens for a reason, said Major Everly regarding her thoughts on the event. The order of her list of errands, being at Andrews for a make-up drill put her there, "In Time of Need," the motto for the 459 AES, which is proudly displayed on their squadron patch.