Okinawa Marine puts training to test, saves life
KADENA AIR BASE - Every year Marines complete hours of classes and annual training to prepare themselves to react and succeed during a real-world life or death situation. For Lance Cpl. Stosh K. Fernandez with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, this training was put to the ultimate test.
Fernandez was running the Kadena Half Marathon, and noticed a community member collapse in front of him during the race. Using the skills he had learned, Fernandez began the rush against time to save the man’s life.
“He collapsed about three to five meters in front of me,” said Fernandez, an expeditionary airfield technician with MWSS-172, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “He had blacked out. I rolled him on his side to see if he was conscious, which he was not. I then put him on his back and started the resuscitation.”
Upon assessing the man’s condition, Fernandez proceeded to use the skills he had learned from his Tactical Combat Causality Care and Red Cross classes.
“I conducted CPR, made sure his chest was rising and falling as well as checked his pulse,” said Fernandez. “In about five minutes, he came about, his eyes were not open and he was frothing at the mouth. Then, (two community members and I) set him upright and carried him up to the ambulance, so the advanced personnel could take care of him.”
The important thing to remember during any such incident is not to panic and to fall back on the skills one has learned, according to Fernandez.
“At first, I thought he was just exhausted and wanted to sit down,” said Fernandez. “But when I realized what had happened, the main thing that ran through my mind was to stay calm because panic is one of the worst things that could happen in one of these situations.”
For service members who find themselves in situations such as this, the success of Fernandez can be attributed to his understanding of the importance of realistic training taken seriously before an incident ever occurs, according to Air Force Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, the commander of the 18th Wing, 5th Air Force, who spoke to Fernandez about the incident Nov. 7 at Kadena Air Base.
“It is not often something like this happens,” said Hecker. “We all take these classes, but need to ask ourselves if we would be ready to go if something did happen. This Marine took his training seriously and it paid off. (The training) may be needed someday for anyone, whether it is in Afghanistan or the person who is sitting next to you.”
The incident itself served to show Marines how important learning and applying life-saving techniques can be to military and community members, according to Fernandez.
“Without the training I received, I don’t think I could have done anything for him except maybe carry him up the hill,” said Fernandez. “I feel that any other Marine, with the proper training, would have done the same thing. I am just glad I was in the right place at the right time and hope he is doing alright.”