by Major Elaine Nowak
107th Airlift Wing
12/7/2015 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION. Pa -- A
New York Air National Guardsman from the 107th Airlift Wing, received
national and state recognition during a ceremony here Dec. 6, for his
life-saving efforts of a colleague.
The Tech. Sgt. Jason N. Oehlbeck, was awarded the Air Force Commendation
Medal and the New York State Medal for Meritorious Service for rendered
cardiopulmonary resuscitation to an unconscious 35-year-old man Oct.
27, at the hotel where Oehlbeck was staying.
Oehlbeck was attending a military training course at Hancock Field Air
National Guard Base in Syracuse and returned to his hotel to study
during a break. He was alerted by a member of a conference group that a
colleague had collapsed. When Oehlbeck arrived, the man was unconscious
and had gone into cardiac arrest. Oehlbeck checked the man's airways,
noted he was not breathing and had no pulse. He began to administer CPR
while someone called 911. He continued his efforts for 18 minutes,
during which the man regained and lost his pulse several times. When
police and paramedics arrived, they took over care and were able to use
an automated external defibrillator to restart the man's heart.
"I saw the guy and he was my age. I thought 'This could be me.' I was going to do whatever I could," Oehlbeck said.
Afterward, members of the conference group and hotel staff thanked Oehlbeck. A few told him they planned to get trained in CPR.
Oehlbeck continued with his day and returned to training, not knowing
the man's fate. Much to his relief, one of the responding police
officers called him the following day and let him know the man had
John Belcher, general manager at Embassy Suites Hotel, witnessed Oehlbeck jump into action.
"If it wasn't for Jason's continued effort and determination, this young
man would not have survived until paramedics arrived," Belcher said in
an email. "Actions like this are not common in every man,"
Belcher added. "As a prior military man myself, I know we are trained
for such things, but still, not everyone has it in them to react when
called upon. To see Jason react as quick as he did in a room full of
people who did not is very special."
Oehlbeck had received CPR and AED training through the Air National
Guard as a required part of his job as an aircraft electrician. He
received an American Red Cross certification every two years. He is also
part of a medical alert team with his civilian employer, Harris
Corporation of Rochester, where he also gets CPR/AED training.
"My military training, my employer's medical training, and the fact that
God put me in the right place at the right time - all came together so
that I could help," said Oehlbeck.
The man whose life was saved, Jack Ewald, attended the ceremony as a
surprise to his rescuer. He had never met Oehlbeck. As the men hugged
for the first time, their friends, family, and the men and women of the
107th Airlift Wing clapped and cheered.
"It was just fantastic to see him and fantastic to see him get the
recognition he deserved," said Ewald. "He did amazing work in the spur
of the moment and he was ready and had the character to keep it up."
Col. Robert Kilgore, 107th Airlift Wing commander presented the medals to Tech. Sgt. Oehlbeck.
"Tech. Sgt. Oehlbeck's actions were certainly heroic but it does not
come as a surprise," said Kilgore. "Jason is an outstanding member of
this unit and fine example of a National Guardsman, lending a hand to a
fellow citizen in a time of crisis,"
Marie Betti, representing the group that was having the conference at
the hotel that day, the New York Credit Union Association, was also at
the ceremony. She presented a plaque to Oehlbeck thanking him for
helping their colleague. She also announced $1,000 was donated to the
Friends of Family Support Association, a group that aids families from
the airbase, in honor of Oehlbeck.
Oehlbeck is a traditional Air National Guard Airman who lives in
Webster, N.Y. He has served in the 107th Airlift Wing since 2007 as an
aircraft electrician. He deployed to Southwest Asia in 2013 as part of
Operation Enduring Freedom.
The state and federal awards are given to recognize Airmen for meritorious or heroic acts.