Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lajes' couple Step Up, Step In to save life

by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/18/2015 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- There is always the potential of one moment turning an ordinary day upside down. It is in that moment where there is a separation between bystanders and individuals that Step Up, Step In. For one Lajes' couple, when moment arrived -- they were ready.

At the end of an ordinary workday, Tech. Sgt. Jamie Gielczowski, 65th Force Support Squadron manpower analyst, and his wife Laura Gielczowski, Protestant education coordinator at the base chapel, were heading home. All of a sudden a green hatchback in front of them stalled out and started rolling backwards.

Two screaming women immediately exited the hatchback holding a baby. The only word the Gielczowskis could understand was, hospital, and they knew something was wrong. Laura jumped out of the truck, ran towards the women and was handed a motionless little girl. Laura told the mother to get in the truck and they drove to the emergency room.

"I was so focused on making sure that (the mother) and the baby were ok," Laura said, "Let's just get them there, that was all I was focused on."

As they drove off Tech. Sgt. Gielczowski used hand gestures and told the mother to lay the baby flat to open up the airway. Despite the language barrier, the mother understood.

When emergencies arise it's easy to let a situation become overwhelming. It benefits everyone to remain calm and focused. 

"I think the reason I stayed so calm was because Jamie was giving such good instructions," Laura said.

At one point Tech. Sgt. Gielczowski looked in the rear view mirror and saw the baby convulsing. He slowed down preparing to give the baby CPR, but before he could stop the little girl became conscious again.

The couple relied on directions to the hospital via hand signals from the mother.  When they arrived, Tech. Sgt. Gielczowski repeatedly honked the horn as Laura and the woman ran inside with the baby.

Throughout the ordeal, Tech. Sgt. Gielczowski relied on Self-Aid and Buddy Care and CPR training.

Air Force training requirements, such as SABC, focus on what to do in emergency medical situations. Airmen will never know when an ordinary day will be turned upside down and the training they have received could save a life.

The Gielczowskis said they were just doing what anyone would do in the same situation.

"I think there would be a lot of people out there that would have done the same thing," Laura said. "Their focus would have been to just get that baby to the hospital."

"It just shows how the Americans and the Portuguese rely on one other to take care of each other and I think that continued partnership is important to be maintained," Tech. Sgt. Gielczowski said. "It's about us; us as a Portuguese and American family."

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