Positive attitudes and training aid medics

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Laura L. Valentine
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As Airmen seek out ways to volunteer services and skills to organizations in need, many typically think of picking up trash, painting houses or babysitting. Very few ever consider the possibility of providing life support in the process of volunteering.

For Staff Sgts. Colby Shinkle, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron independent duty medical technician, and Brandon Kahili, 349th Air Refueling Squadron IDMT, that possibility became a reality during a weekend of volunteering at the Special Olympics Kansas Summer State Games in Wichita, Kan.

More than 1,300 participants from across Kansas converged at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium June 3 through 5, 2011, for the 40th Annual Special Olympic. Athletes participated in track and field event over the two day competition.

Sergeants Shinkle and Kahili were among nearly 2,700 volunteers for the weekend event.

"Essentially, we just provided first-aid support," said Sergeant Shinkle. "We're not out there functioning as EMTs."

Shortly after a Sunday morning track event was complete, the two IDMTs received a call that an athlete had collapsed at the finish line.

Professionalism, training and timeliness kicked-in for the two.

Upon arriving on scene to find the male victim face down, Sergeant Shinkle quickly rolled him over and began checking for vital signs. With no pulse and an unopened airway, CPR was immediately administered.

While Sergeant Shinkle called 911, Sergeant Kahili peformed CPR and soon after placed patches for an Automated External Defibrillator on the victim's chest.

"The AED tells you what to do, and we followed it step by step," said Sergeant Shinkle.

By the time the AED advised for and delivered a second shock, local EMS and fire department teams had arrived on scene, said Sergeant Shinkle. They were able to give an advanced airway and administer oxygen, while CPR was continued.

Within a ten minute window of the 911 call being made, Sedgwick County paramedics arrived to start intravenous therapy and provide medications. By this time, the AED did not advise a third shock, so the victim was quickly loaded and transported to Wesley Medical Center.

When the man left by emergency transportation, he had a pulse but still was not breathing on his own, said Sergeant Shinkle. He died nine days later in the hospital.

"The key to anyone actually surviving cardiac arrest is early CPR and early defibrillation," said Sergeant Shinkle. "Had we not been there, he wouldn't have had much of a chance at all. At least we were able to give him a little bit of a chance."

All Airmen are required to take self-aid buddy care courses, helping to prepare for emergency situations such as the one at the Special Olympics.

Certification in CPR is not mandatory for all Airmen.

"More and more career fields are making CPR mandatory, not just medical fields," said Tech. Sgt. Gerard Hammond, 22nd Medical Group education and training NCOIC.

As one of the 55 CPR instructors at McConnell, Sergeant Hammond says it is very important for all Airmen to know proper CPR procedures. In the event of a medical emergency, on or off base, Airmen would be able to provide CPR during the critical time period of waiting for first responders to arrive.

Whether Airmen need to perform emergency medical care in a military or civilian setting, the training and maintaining a positive mental attitude comes into play.

Remain calm and remember the basics, said Sergeant Kahili.

"I think that's one of the key characteristics of a good medic, someone who likes to help people, somebody who cares about the outcome and the person as a whole," said Sergeant Shinkle. "I know Brandon and I both have that."