By Air Force Master Sgt. April Wickes, U.S. Strategic Command
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., Dec. 19, 2017 — For one airman, a routine workout at the field house here turned into an opportunity to put his livesaving skills to the test.
Air Force Airman 1st Class David Robb, a security specialist and emergency medical technician with the 55th Security Forces Squadron, was starting his warm-up lap during his daily workout Nov. 15, when he saw enlisted and civilian gym workers sprinting past him.
“I know that usually when they do that it means something is going on, and by the way they were running, it was something serious,” Robb said. “I picked up my pace and ran to the other side of the gym where I noticed there was a man lying on his back with an automatic defibrillator, or AED, attached to him and someone was in the process of doing chest compressions on him.”
After Robb identified himself as an emergency medical technician, he asked the person assisting the patient to temporarily stop chest compressions, then assessed the situation and found that the man had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.
‘Step Back … Analyzing’
“I took over chest compressions and had the other gentleman maintain an open airway,” Robb said. “After about 45 seconds of chest compressions the AED said, ‘Step back from patient, analyzing.’”
The AED advised a shock.
“I continued with chest compressions for 5 to 10 seconds and once the AED was charged we stood back, pressed the button and the AED shocked the man,” Robb said. “I continued to do chest compressions after that for an additional two minutes.”
The AED analyzed the patient again and this time no shock was advised.
“At that point we did a quick assessment of the patient because he doesn’t need chest compressions anymore,” Robb said. “We checked his wrist for a pulse and he had a good strong pulse. He also started breathing again.”
In just a few minutes, Robb helped save a life -- something he had prepared for in his extensive CPR and EMT training.
In addition to the CPR training Robb is required to have as a security forces airman, he earned his national EMT certification in January 2015. The certification included specialized training in adult and infant CPR and use of an AED.
“I’m coming to the end of my enlistment,” Robb explained. “I’m going to be separating soon and my ultimate goal is to become a firefighter. In order to become a firefighter you have to be a certified EMT.”
Robb’s father was a paramedic firefighter in Mesa, Arizona, and like his father, he always desired to help people.
In fact, Robb’s desire to help the man at the gym didn’t stop when the Bellevue Fire Department showed up and took the patient to a local hospital.
That evening, he went to the hospital to check on the man he helped rescue.
“I really wanted to see if I could offer any assistance,” Robb said. “Growing up around firefighters, paramedics and police officers, [I know] the majority of the time when they go on a rescue and they do what they need to do, they drop the patient off at the hospital, and they never see them again. They don’t know the outcome.”
The patient’s wife and a nurse were at the hospital and thanked Robb for what he did. Robb also cleared up some information that was not passed on to them, such as where and when the patient was found at the Offutt Field House.
This was the first time he’s helped someone who was in cardiac arrest in the more than two and a half years he’s been certified as an EMT.
“With me separating soon, and my goal to be a firefighter, I felt like I hadn’t been put up to a challenge yet to see if I could really do this under pressure -- in a real life situation,” Robb said. “When the situation presented itself, I did what I could. When he [the patient] started breathing again and had a pulse, I was euphoric! I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I came down from that euphoria for the rest of the day.”
When Air Force Capt. Keith Saylors Jr., the 55th Security Forces Squadron’s operations officer, received the news, he explained that he was a bit shocked because although Robb is a “steadfast defender, he is not always the most vocal person in the room.”
“In most cases, he will not be the first person to raise his hand, but knows all of the answers,” Saylors said of Robb. “On the other hand, his actions are not surprising. We teach our defenders from Day One of training that they are security forces 24/7, 365 days a year, and to always be prepared to react to the adversary or provide support to those in need.”
Everyone Should Learn CPR
Robb said that when he’s on duty, he anticipates that things like this event could happen, but to him, rescuing someone during his off-duty time seemed “completely out of the blue.”
Robb also noticed something that concerned him.
“I noticed there was a large group of people, even when I went over to start doing compressions,” Robb said. “Nobody was really doing anything except for one guy. I don’t know if those people knew CPR, but I also find that people are afraid to do it; they’re afraid to get involved. To me, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; if a person is in cardiac arrest you can’t do any more harm.”
He also explained why he thinks people should learn CPR.
“The reason it’s so important to me is because you never know when situations like this happen,” Robb said. “They say that the average person in a non-rescue-type profession will at least one time in their life be put in a situation where someone will be required to perform CPR. The last thing I would want is to be in that situation and think, ‘Man, I had the opportunity to take the training, but now I can’t do anything.’ To me that is a scary feeling.”