Airman put CPR training to use after super drill

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jodie Witmer
  • 167AW/PA
Three Airmen from the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va. put CPR training into action at an accident on I-81, June 12.

Staff Sgt. Justin Watson and Staff Sgt. Johnathen Guzik, both members of metals technology in the maintenance group at the 167th, had taken a required CPR class the day before, June 11. CPR instructors Capt. Lori Wyatt, Staff Sgt. Justin Bird and Senior Airman Travis Sites from the 167th Medical Clinic taught the course using hands on training.

Watson was traveling on I-81 when he saw a flash of silver and a tire fly by in front of him. He stopped as quickly as he could and assessed the situation. He immediately called 911 and started performing CPR on one of the three victims in the unfortunate crash.

Guzik was about 100 yards away when he saw the smoke. When he came upon the scene he saw Watson performing CPR on a victim and immediately stopped and helped perform CPR.

The last Airmen to arrive on the scene was Staff Sgt. John Carson, a crew chief at the 167th.

Carson said, "People were just trying to get by the accident, wanting to get home or to their next destination. Nobody wanted to stop and help."

Guzik said there were people pulled over videotaping the accident with their phones but no one was helping.

Carson said, "I saw both of these guys [Watson and Guzik] doing CPR. I saw only these guys doing CPR. I decided I had to stop. I had to go help. I had to do something.  Because they're not going to be able to do it forever."

Although he did not know Watson or Guzik he knew that they would need help performing CPR because he too had taken the CPR course a year prior with Retired Master Sgt. Luweldon Smith and knew performing CPR is physically demanding.
Watson, Guzik and Carson all agree that they were thankful for the CPR training that the 167th provided them.

Guzik said during the CPR training every person in the class had to prove that they knew how to perform CPR by doing it on a manikin.

Carson said it didn't matter that he didn't know Guzik or Watson. When he arrived at the scene. His training kicked in and he began working with both to help the victims.
"We just did it, the training comes back to you," said Carson.

Watson said during his CPR training he was nervous to do it in front of people. "But when that wreck happened we were on point," said Watson.

Watson said his biggest take away from the accident was now he always wears his seat belt even if it just a short trip to the mailbox.

Carson wants others to assess themselves, "Do you have a first-aid kit? Do you have anything if you come up on an accident? Do an assessment right now. How prepared are you?"

Carson said he assessed all his vehicles and found that he didn't have a first-aid kit in any of his vehicles. He now has first-aid kits and is getting breathing barriers for performing CPR for his kits.

Bird said the only people that are required to have CPR training at the 167th are maintenance personnel, communications personnel, medical personnel and physical training leaders.

CPR training is offered at the 167th through the week for those who are required to take it and also for other personnel on base that are interested in learning CPR. Everyone that goes through the course gets emailed a CPR card from the American Heart Association.

"I think it's a great training. It's one of the opportunities that we can train here on the base that people take with them on the outside," said Bird. "Some of the guys from OPS [Operations] and other people on the base were inspired by these guys' story and they said we think we should use this."

Wyatt said, "I feel honored to train Airmen to perform CPR. I'm so proud of the three Airmen who choose to use the skills they learned when they came upon an accident that Sunday afternoon. Their actions were brave and heroic and they should be extremely proud of themselves."

Sites said, "It just goes to show you the training that we do at the 167th is very important for our careers and also in our personal life."

During the 167th's super drill in June, the CPR instructors helped the Maintenance Group go from 90% unqualified on CPR training to only 9% in less than a month's timeframe. 

Master Sgt. Daniel Ritenour, 167th Maintenance Training Manger said, "Staff Sgt. Bird aided in setting up and assisting maintenance accomplishing 98% CPR efficiency, something it has not had for quite some time," said Ritenour.