by Senior Airman Marjorie A. Bowlden
911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
1/27/2016 - PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa -- Maj.
Fred Pounds, flight commander of clinical management with the 911th
Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here, went to Orlando to attend a Yellow
Ribbon Reintegration seminar, expecting to unwind and adjust to life
back home. Instead, he ended up averting a crisis and subsequently
saving a stranger's life.
"Whether it happened at a Yellow Ribbon event or down the street from my
house, I probably would have done the same thing," said Pounds. "I just
did what anyone else would have done."
Pounds returned from a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia in
September 2015. Like all Air Force Reserve Airmen recently home from a
deployment, he was offered the opportunity to attend up to two Yellow
Ribbon events to ease the adjustment process. He and his wife decided to
take the December trip to Orlando.
On the morning of Dec. 19, 2015, Pounds and his wife left their room to
attend a speech on resiliency by former Air Force Reserve Chaplain John
Groth. During the speech, Pounds said that he noticed a man at a nearby
table repeatedly asking his wife if she was alright. Instead of
replying, her head rolled back, and she became unresponsive.
"I immediately went over and asked if anything was wrong," said Pounds.
"He told me his wife wasn't responding, and I instructed him that we
needed to lower her to the floor."
At this point, several people gathered around to see what was going on.
Pounds identified himself as a nurse, and a man standing next to him
said that he knew CPR. They checked for her pulse, but there was none to
Pounds, who has been a critical care nurse for 16 years, has encountered
a plethora of different health crises and situations over the length of
his career. However, the woman's lack of pulse was not at all what he
"I usually see people that just pass out and come to within two seconds,
and that's what I was expecting at first," he said. "But to check for
her pulse and not find one, and to see that she wasn't breathing, was a
little scary. I realized immediately that we had to do CPR."
The two men began to try to revive the woman, Pounds doing compressions and the other trying to control her airway.
"I'm not even sure how long it was because it all happened so fast,"
said Pounds. "But at some point, she gave a few gasps and then started
to breathe on her own."
The two men rolled the woman onto her side and waited for the paramedics
to arrive. In the meantime, Pounds discovered that the woman had
recently had surgery and hadn't been feeling well for a few days
preceding the event.
When the paramedics arrived, Pounds followed them out to the ambulance.
Though her blood pressure was still low, she was improving and was able
to talk before being transported to the hospital.
Airmen often train for real-life situations and crises like this one,
but applying that training isn't always so simple, said Lt. Col. Bryan
Hutcheson, chief nurse with the 911 AES.
"Airmen with the Air Evacuation Squadron spend about 1,000 hours
training for every hour that we spend in that kind of situation and
having to make a decision," said Hutcheson. "It can catch you off guard,
and it's sometimes hard to apply the training when you need it. The
only thing I can ask of our nurses and techs is to be ready when that
Pounds also said that being ready for a crisis like this one is crucial.
He encourages other Airmen to confidently step up to the plate when
crisis strikes, even if they're not part of the medical field.
"Don't be afraid to act," said Pounds. "Even if you don't have the
specific training for an event like this, try to offer whatever help you
Though Pounds humbly said that he'd done what anyone else would do and
doesn't want recognition for his actions, Hutcheson disagrees.
"You'd hope that everyone else would do the same, but that's not always
the case," said Hutcheson. "His actions were absolutely a testament to
his training, his character, and his willingness and commitment to be
ready at all times."