Off-duty Airmen save local man's life

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Justin Weaver
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The importance of military training hit home for three Eielson Airmen who rescued a local Fairbanks man drowning in a lake behind Fairbanks International Airport June 16.

Senior Airmen Elicia Greer and John Rogers and Staff Sgt. Bryan Fletcher were riding their dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicle when they heard a woman screaming for help and saw an elderly man trying to wave them down.

Sergeant Fletcher hopped off his four-wheeler and noticed a body floating in the water. He immediately took off his boots and dove into the lake to help rescue the individual. Airmen Greer and Rogers quickly threw off their helmets and gloves and followed suit, diving into the cold water to assist in the rescue.

The three Airmen pulled the man out of the water and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"The victim wasn't breathing and had no pulse," said Sergeant Fletcher, a vehicle dispatcher with the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "Together, we helped perform CPR, while Rogers held his head stable and checked for a pulse."

After more than three minutes of CPR, the individual began to cough up water and his pulse and breathing strengthened.

"Once he had a very strong pulse, we rolled him on his side so he wouldn't choke," Airman Greer said. "We then covered him with a blanket to reduce his shock symptoms."

All three Airmen gave credit to the Air Force for providing the vital training they needed to save the man's life.

"If it wasn't for our military training, I don't think this guy would have survived," Sergeant Fletcher said. "I was just glad I could be there to help out and bring him back to life."

Seconds after the man was resuscitated, emergency response crews arrived on scene.

The chief of the University Fairbanks Fire Department, whose personnel responded to the emergency call, said the Eielson three did an "absolutely phenomenal job" and that she will recommend them for a state commendation.

"If they hadn't of done this, he wouldn't have survived," said Fire Chief Edith Curry. "It was unique in the fact that they brought him back to life. They were highly skilled, qualified people and what they did was done very well."

Joseph Mead, 35, was revived and was out of the hospital on June 19.

"What these three did was extraordinary, even by the high standards we set in the military," said Lt. Col. Michael Fitzgerald, 354th LRS commander. "They acted in a courageous way to help a fellow human being, and their experience and training paid off in saving the life of this local man."