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NEWS | May 25, 2022

NRC Shreveport Sailors Receive Medals for Saving Shipmate’s Life

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lawrence Davis, Navy Reserve Region Readiness and Mobilization Command Fort Worth

Navy Reserve Region Readiness and Mobilization Command Fort Worth (REDCOM FW) Commander Capt. Mark Hofmann presented three Commendation Medals and two Achievement Medals to five Navy Reserve Center (NRC) Shreveport Sailors, May 15, for their actions in saving the life of a shipmate, April 3, 2022.
Capt. Trent Friedel, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ferd Slocum, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Caleb Espinoza received Navy Commendation Medals for direct lifesaving actions. Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Patrick Martin and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Dustin Ikels received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for other support.
Each of them stood front-and-center in their Navy service uniform before more than 150 staff members and Reserve Sailors in the NRC Shreveport drill hall. Capt. Hofmann gave high praise for their rapid-response and successful resuscitation of a distressed shipmate, who experienced cardiac arrest shortly after performing the Navy physical readiness test (PRT).
“The Shreveport emergency reminds us why we need to always be ready,” said Hofmann. “When crisis hits you, it’s going to be sudden and unexpected. It’s going to demand that you turn your training into action without delay. Our Sailors were trained and ready to help their shipmate in the same way they are trained and ready to mobilize and fight.”
As the members involved explained, it was seemingly just another ordinary drill weekend for NRC Shreveport. That Saturday morning, staff had facilitated PRTs for the Reserve Sailors.
“We had wrapped up about an hour or so earlier and most had taken off to shower and get lunch,” said Martin, who was with the Sailor when the incident occurred. “I was sitting in the first class mess having a conversation with him. He stated he wasn’t feeling very well and came over to sit down on the couch next to me. Then, mid-sentence as he was talking, he leaned back and said he was having trouble breathing.”
Martin stood up and asked the Sailor if he was ok. The Sailor was unresponsive.
“It looked like he was having a seizure,” said Martin. “I immediately ran over to Medical to get help.”
In the Medical office, Martin notified Friedel, NRC Shreveport’s senior medical officer.
“I went over to the next room and witnessed the Sailor having what looked like seizure activity,” said Friedel. “At that point, he was breathing on his own. I supported his head and asked Petty Officer Martin to go downstairs to tell my guys I needed assistance. As soon as he left the room, the Sailor basically stopped breathing.”
Friedel explained he then pulled the Sailor onto the ground and opened his airway.
“I felt for a pulse, no pulse. I immediately started chest compressions,” said Friedel.
Martin had alerted Slocum and Espinoza to the emergency. They responded quickly to the scene with medical gear.
“We applied the AED (automated external defibrillator),” said Friedel. “It advised a shock. We delivered the shock and went through the procedures as we’re trained to do.”
Martin called for emergency medical services (EMS), notified the command’s front office leadership, and directed Sailors to assist as needed.
Ikels cleared space for the medical team by moving tables and chairs out of the way.
“On the third shock, we got a pulse back,” said Friedel. “We hooked up a pneumatic CPR device and I supported his breathing with a manual resuscitator.”
EMS arrived on scene and began transport.
Each of the Sailors shared thoughts about their actions at the time of the emergency.
“I’ll quote the ‘Five Ps’ here,” said Friedel. “Proper planning prevents poor performance. Everybody here has the training to do the job the way we did, and I truly believe anybody else in this facility would have responded in the same way.”
“The importance of training and routine equipment maintenance cannot be overstated,” said Slocum, NRC Shreveport’s lead medical representative. “We’re constantly conducting hands-on medical training so that in the instance of an actual emergency, that training becomes instinct.”
Espinoza spoke about his lessons learned.
“I’ve made it a point to re-emphasize to my junior HMs the fact that when we do corpsman coverage for PRTs or any other kind of event, it’s not just a check-in-the-box, holding a medical bag and an AED,” said Espinoza. “It’s the real thing.”
Ikels shared his thoughts on having been involved in saving the life of a shipmate.
“It’s surreal,” said Ikels. “You watch movies and see things like this and think, ‘that’s never going to happen to me.’ But, then it does happen, and people are thanking you, telling you about how you just saved someone’s life, and your response is, ‘I just did what I was supposed to do.’”
NRC Shreveport Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jhon Alcide spoke about how proud he was of his Sailors’ display of courage and competence.
“Their actions that day were directly in line with the Navy’s core attributes of initiative, integrity, accountability and toughness,” said Alcide. “They assisted without hesitance. They took control of the situation, performed well under pressure and remained committed to saving their shipmate’s life.”
Hofmann concluded the awards ceremony echoing Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. John Mustin’s call to action for the Reserve Force, to continually build on its warfighting readiness capabilities with a sense of urgency because we never know when we’ll need to use them.