MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. - A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. Most people may think of a legendary figure with great strength or abilities when thinking of a hero, but more often than not, the true heroes are normal everyday people who have a heart to do good and the strength to step up when called upon.
On Jan. 28, 2016, near a busy intersection on 10th Avenue South in Great Falls, Montana, two Airmen showed heroic qualities when they stopped to offer assistance to a little girl who had just had a seizure and was next to lifeless in her mother's arms.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shaun Russell 341st Security Support Squadron NCO in charge of resources and logistics, left, and Staff Sgt. Joe Stalzer, 819th REDHORSE pavement and equipment apprentice, after an interview with local media at the Grizzly Bend at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 29, 2016. Russell and Stalzer both have a background in first aid and have taken annual military-required CPR training, which they accredit with helping them save a young girl's life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Collin Schmidt)
On the way back from the emergency room, Denisse Willis noticed that her 18-month-old daughter Aryanna had turned blue and was not breathing while riding in her car seat. Frantically, she pulled over to rush to the back seat and see what had happened to her daughter.
On the busiest street in Great Falls, it would be readily apparent that something had gone wrong to people driving by. It was then that Jack Mathews and Rebecca Houle pulled over to offer assistance to the frantic mother. With Mathews blocking traffic, Willis rushed her daughter to the side of the road and laid her in the grass.
It was then that a group of Airmen running to get some parts for their shop saw the commotion and pulled over to offer assistance. Thinking the passengers of the vehicle had been in a car accident, they ran to help. When they arrived, they came to the realization that it was no accident but that a little girl needed immediate medical assistance.
“Myself and two other people were going out and getting some stuff for my vehicle section,” said Tech. Sgt. Shaun Russell, 341st Security Support Squadron NCO in charge of resources and logistics. “We thought that it was an accident and all of the sudden, there was a lady out in the road holding a baby. A guy jumped out in front of the truck and said the baby had quit breathing.”
After running over to the group, Russell started to evaluate the situation.
“And then all of the sudden a staff sergeant from the REDHORSE squadron showed up,” said Russell.
The second individual was Staff Sgt. Joe Stalzer, 819th REDHORSE squadron pavement and equipment apprentice.
“I was just on my way to an appointment and I saw one of the civilians helping assist the child,” said Stalzer.
Stalzer parked his vehicle and ran to the group. After arriving, both Stalzer and Russell took the baby from the mother and started performing CPR.
“We were able to use the jaw-thrust maneuver to open up her airway,” said Stalzer. “Then we started assessing the child to find out what the causes could have been.”
Later on it was determined that Aryanna had suffered a febrile seizure, which is caused by a rapid rise in fever. After performing CPR, Russell had noticed foam and bubbles coming from the child's mouth indicating that she was breathing again.
“She started showing signs of recovery,” said Stalzer. “This was truly a God thing.”
“The other two personnel that were with me: Staff Sgt. Zachary Walgenbach, 341st Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of resource and sustainment support and Senior Airman Aaron Salinas, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron RAS support, took their fleeces off and wrapped them around the baby to help her stay warm,” said Russell.
“I would also like to give them credit for the assistance they offered,” he continued.
Shortly after, paramedics arrived and took Aryanna back to the hospital.
All the airmen and civilians involved who are now called heroes consider it just another day on the job and are happy the little girl pulled through.
Currently, Aryanna is back at home with her mother and father.
“I am super thankful,” said Willis. “Not for just the military members, but also for the civilians that pulled over without any questions. I cannot thank everyone enough.”
“It was definitely the right time at the right place,” said Russell. “I don't know if there could be anything more perfect timing than that.”
By U.S. Air Force Airman Collin Schmidt
Provided through DVIDS
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