Hill pilot saves a life

  • Published
  • By Lee Ann Hensley
  • Hilltop Times writer
Emergencies are never planned. They can happen any time or place, even when checking into a hotel during a temporary duty assignment.

When F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot and Viper West demonstration team safety observer, Capt. Jennifer Wade and her wingmen, waited at the counter of the Golden Nugget casino to check in to a room during a TDY to the Wendover Air Show on Sept. 19, a man approached her group and asked, "Do you guys know anything about seizures?" Wade and her co-workers answered "no," and the man informed them that a man was having a seizure behind the lobby and asked for their help.

"I had volunteered at an emergency room for a few summers as a pre-med student in college, and I was a lifeguard for five years," said Wade. "I had taken CPR classes many times and thought maybe there was something I could do to help."

Although it had been years since Wade had taken the lifeguard and pre-med cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes, Wade, currently of the 388th Fighter Wing's 4th Fighter Squadron, happened to have taken a refresher course recently. She took the course during her remote tour in South Korea less than a year ago. Air Force pilots are required to take self-aid and buddy-care courses, which review trauma and first-responder life saving techniques, but it does not review CPR.

"In Korea, just on a whim, the base hospital offered a CPR class, and I just decided 'Why not take it?'" Wade said. "It was good that I took that because the rules have changed within the last few years regarding the number of compressions-to-ventilation ratio, so I was still current in that."

When Wade and her wingmen arrived on the scene, they saw an elderly man being propped up on a luggage cart by bystanders who were trying to help. The man was unconscious and parts of his face were tinged with blue. A man was attempting to ventilate the victim while the victim was being held upright and other bystanders were giving contradicting orders. When the bystanders saw Wade and her group, it was clear that they expected Wade to take over.

"People just saw me in a uniform and thought I would know what to do," she said.
Wade immediately began delegating the bystanders to call 911, locate an automated external defibrillator, lay the victim on the ground and instructed the man who was providing the ventilation to continue once the victim was lying on the ground.

"It's like they always say, the training just kicks in," Wade explained.

The victim did not have a pulse and Wade started the compressions between ventilation assistance. After four compression-and-ventilation cycles, the victim's pulse returned. The Life Flight medics arrived shortly afterward and flew the victim to a nearby hospital.

"The next morning, the front desk people told me he was fine," said Wade. "He was sitting up and talking and was 100 percent normal."

The Golden Nugget provided Wade with a complimentary breakfast for her efforts.

"I can honestly tell you that I was not a hero," said Wade. "I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."