Salutes & Awards

July 13, 2012

Luke officer saves drowning victim

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Photo and story by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Andrew Hoeffler, 56th Medical Group family nurse practitioner, Ashawnis Guidry, 5, and Staff Sgt. Christopher Guidry, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and construction equipment operator, pose for a photo near the Balfour Beatty community pool Tuesday at Luke Air Force Base. Guidry said he is forever indebted to Hoeffler for saving Ashawnis’ life on June 23 when he successfully resuscitated him after Ashawnis nearly drowned. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton also recognized Hoeffler July 2 at a press conference at City Hall.

June 23 was just a normal day at the Balfour Beatty community pool on Luke Air Force Base. That was until one medical officer overheard a child say, “What’s wrong with him; is he dead?”

Capt. Andrew Hoeffler, 56th Medical Operations Squadron family nurse practitioner, noticed there was a child submerged and not moving on the bottom of the pool.

“I immediately jumped into the pool, retrieved him, and placed him on the pool deck,” Hoeffler said. “I assessed his pulse and breathing; both were absent.”

Using standard procedures, Hoeffler said he performed CPR, including rescue breaths.

“After two cycles of compressions and rescue breaths, the boy began breathing on his own,” he said. “However, the breathing was labored and low in respirations. For a few more minutes, I provided assist breaths until his respiratory rate returned to normal.”

Then, paramedics arrived from on and off base and began rendering aid, Hoeffler said.

“We placed a nasal airway and put the boy on 100 percent oxygen,” he said. “Eventually, the 5-year-old was flown from the scene to Phoenix Children’s Hospital by helicopter. He regained consciousness and was discharged the next day fully recovered with no lasting effects from the incident.”

Although Hoeffler has performed CPR numerous times during his 20-year career in the medical field, he said this was the first time doing CPR as a bystander.

“The skills I used in this situation were very basic,” he said. “Anyone can get the training at their local American Heart Association or American Red Cross training center.”

Col. Yolanda Bledsoe, 56th Medical Group commander, said she is extremely proud of Hoeffler.

“As medics, basic life support or CPR is a critical link in emergency situations,” she said. “We train frequently to ensure we maintain our clinical skills, so when unfortunate events like this happen, we are ready to render medical care.”

However, medics aren’t always going to be present when emergencies occur. This is why Bledsoe said she urges everyone to take a CPR course.

“CPR courses can ensure you are prepared for the next emergency,” she said.

After becoming certified in CPR, trust the training, and use it when necessary, Hoeffler said.

“Once trained, you need to act if you see someone in trouble,” he said. “Remember, the people you are most likely to save are those you know and love.”




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