BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - In a combat zone, some people credit the success of their mission to being in the right place at the right time. For Eric Knox, it was being with the right four people, that accomplished the mission of saving his life.
Knox was sitting at his desk in the Joint Intelligence Support Element (JISE) area when all of a sudden he began having seizures.
January 12, 2015 - (From left to right) Jennifer Kot-Lawton, 1st Lt. Adam Maisel, Maj. Brian Ryan, and Warrant Officer Zachary Ritter recently worked together to save their coworker's life when he suffered from a heart attack while deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler)
“I was sitting at my desk working with headphones on and out of the corner of my eye I noticed some commotion. I took my headphones off, stood up, started looking around, and for some reason I zeroed in on Eric,” said Warrant Officer Zachary Ritter, Signals Intelligence Tech for 109th Military Intelligence Battalion, originally from Centerville, VA. “So I ran over to him. He was slumped over in his chair unconscious, sweating heavily. He was bright red, so I started shaking him to get a response out of him. I wasn't getting anything so I tried to pick him up and started moving him to the floor.”
Although this was a horrible situation, Knox's luck started turning. Jennifer Kot-Lawton is a fusion intelligence analyst for the JISE, but it was an additional skill she possessed that brought her into the situation.
“I heard Lt. Commander Bill Phillips, say he needed medical assistance,” said Kot-Lawton, from Wethersfield, CT. “I was sitting at my computer typing and then stood up and said Sir, I am an EMT, can I help, and he said go.”
Jennifer is a certified emergency medical technician, but she wasn't the only experienced person that responded to the emergency. Maj. Brian Ryan, JISE Chief for USFOR-A and Analysis and Control Element Chief for the 3rd Infantry Division, used to work at the state department, and one of the requirements for working there was completing CPR training, and a class on how to use a defibrillator, but it was Ryan's recent personal experience that helped everyone through this situation.
“In October, right before we deployed, my wife went through the same situation where she was unconscious for about six minutes,” explained Ryan, from Allentown, PA. “So I was there with the doctors when they ran through the whole scenario there with her. So seeing that and having that register in my mind, we put him on the ground, elevated the feet, and I started going through everything they did in her scenario two months ago.”
Kot-Lawton and Ryan attached a defibrillator to Knox and ran the first test. The defibrillator analyzed Eric and delivered the first shock. Immediately following the shock, Ritter and Ryan rotated with each other applying CPR along with 1st Lt. Adam Maisel, JISE Targeting Officer In Charge, who was a volunteer Fire Fighter for nine years in New York, and Pennsylvania.
“You just revert back to the way you learn it,” said Maisle, from Washington D.C. “When you do the compressions, you want to keep a certain cadence, and it just so happens that the Bee Gees song “Stayin' Alive” is that proper cadence for it. Someone mentioned that once or twice so that was going through my mind and I did my compressions to the cadence of the song.”
After two minutes of CPR, the defibrillator analyzed Knox, and delivered another shock. The group then continued CPR. During that period of CPR, the medics arrived on site and the medic NCO instructed the three to continue with the CPR. The defibrillator once again conducted an assessment, and provided him with a third shock. Following that shock, they were directed to load him on a stretcher, and carry him out to the ambulance.
“The manner in which Jen, Bryan, Adam, and Zach reacted to the emergency was extraordinary,” said Lt. Col. Cameron Weathers, U.S. Forces Afghanistan / Joint Task Force-3 J2. “Their quick thinking and ability to remain completely collected under extreme circumstances, not to mention the exceptional teamwork they displayed, without a doubt resulted in their saving Eric's life. I am absolutely proud to work with such stellar professionals.”
Knox was evacuated out of the country, but is doing well. Being a avid runner, he already has one thing on his mind.
“He's up and around talking to his wife on the phone,” said Weathers. “He asked when he gets to come back to Bagram and start running marathons again.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler
Provided through DVIDS
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