Air Force training prepares you for the unexpected

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Each Unit Training Assembly is chocked full of training classes, sometimes to the point of not getting any job-related work done. At times, I hear the rumblings of, "not another class" or "didn't I already complete this training?" but after my recent experience, I know how valuable this training can be.

The skills from one of those training sessions were recently put to the test.

I was heavily engaged in my morning workout routine when I noticed the woman using the treadmill next to me. Something stood out. She was not dressed flamboyantly or oddly-shaped, but something just was not right. I continued with my workout, only to be drawn to her once again. Then it hit me. Her facial expression and body language indicated that she may be in trouble. My attention was then totally focused on her, almost ignoring my workout, when the unthinkable happened. Her legs gave way and she tumbled to the base of the treadmill, which sent her backward onto the floor.

I immediately stopped my machine and positioned myself to administer self aid and buddy care procedures to the fallen woman.

As I think about my actions, there was not a moment of thought or contemplation on what should be done, I just reacted as I had been trained to do.

As an administration clerk, I was not prepared to render specialized medical assistance. However, my Air Force training did guide me on what to look for and how to respond until qualified personnel arrived on scene.

I directed an onlooker to call 911 and alert the staff on what had just happened. Thinking back, out of 20 or so bystanders, I was the only one to take action.

Up to this point, the entire event seemed to be a blur. As the situation subsided, I was able to transition from instinct mode to awareness mode, which is when I began to re-assess the woman's condition. Her heart rate had normalized, her natural color began to return and her skin felt cooler.

I asked if she was okay, how she was feeling, if she knew her name and where she was. Her responses indicated that she was aware of what had happened. Going further into detail on what caused her to pass out, she said that she may have had a diabetic episode and only needed to rest.

Shortly after her responses, a physician, who had also been working out, showed up to assess her condition. He noted that she was beginning to regain her composure and that her vitals were within safe limits. As I heard the whaling of the ambulance sirens getting closer, it was then that I breathed a sigh of relief.

The doctor looked over at me and, because of the actions I had taken, asked if I was a medical professional.

I replied, "No. I am in the Air Force Reserve!"