Academy Military Trainer uses Self Aid Buddy Care, help 2 in Colo. Springs
by Amber Baillie
Academy Spirit staff writer
1/17/2014 – U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — An Academy Military Trainer used his Air Force training to aid two unconscious shoppers in Colorado Springs on Black Friday in November.
Tech Sgt. Leslie Cook, an AMT for Cadet Squadron 40 and a prior medical technician, put his Self-Aid Buddy Care knowledge into practice to stabilize a man who suffered a seizure at Kohl’s department store and treat a woman undergoing a diabetic episode at Best Buy Nov. 28.
Cook and his wife, Amy Cook, were scoping-out sales at Kohl’s the day after Thanksgiving when across the aisle they heard a loud thud and a woman yell, “Help!”
“I saw a gentleman in his early 60s who had fallen down and was bleeding from his forehead,” Cook said. “I’m a medic, so I think that’s why it’s habit for me to take the lead during those kinds of situations. I held the man’s head and neck in place to prevent any further or possible head or neck injuries.”
Cook said he asked a bystander to notify 911 and another onlooker who happened to be nurse, to check the victim’s pulse. It was at that moment the man began to have a seizure and his face turned blue, he said.
“I performed a modified jaw-thrust to help maintain and open his airway, as well as stabilize his head and neck,” Cook said. By pulling the jaw forward, the tongue also moves forward and out of the airway a bit.”
About a dozen shoppers crowded the scene and Amy motioned them to stand back while the man’s seizure continued, Cook said.
“Bystanders moved clothing racks out of the way to give the guy some space,” Cook said. “I checked to see if he was with anyone or had a medical alert bracelet. A person found his wallet with about 20 different cards for neurology and internal medicine specialists.”
The man maintained a pulse and stopped seizing five minutes later, Cook said.
“After the seizure he tried speaking and moving around,” Cook said. “His color came back and I asked him questions about his health and if anyone was with him. Fifteen minutes later, the paramedics arrived.”
By serving as a medical technician throughout his Air Force career and staying updated on SABC training, Cook said providing medical aid has become like clockwork to him.
“It’s good to know the skills don’t leave you and automatic for you to go into a reaction mode,” Cook said. “Once you’ve done it before, it comes right back.”
Cook said he and his wife continued shopping. Little did they know they’d respond to a similar incident two hours later at a different store.
“Amy and I were at Best Buy for about ten minutes when she saw a female in her late-30s lean against some shelves and fall to the floor,” he said. “We ran over to her and I held her head and neck in place. She was quiet and wasn’t seizing.”
Cook said he assumed she passed-out due to shock or a low insulin level.
“The lady didn’t wake up while we were there and my wife dialed 911,” Cook said. “She had pale, cool, and clammy skin. I had my wife take her pulse, which was rapid, and I continued to check it periodically. The woman was breathing fine on her own, just drooling a bit, so I laid her on her side since she did not have a traumatic fall.”
Ten minutes later the paramedics arrived and confirmed that her blood glucose was too low, Cook said.
“The worst thing someone can do in an emergency situation is panic,” Cook said. “That’s where people don’t get their lives saved–when others are afraid to step in and help. You can’t do anything wrong by standing next to someone who needs medical help, making sure they’re breathing.”
Cook said he took his first SABC course in 2001 at his first Air Force duty station, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
“SABC is extremely important,” Cook said. “It teaches you what signs of life to look for such as whether someone is breathing. You don’t want to perform CPR on them if they are. The more you repeat the course, the more confidence you’ll have to step in and take action.”
Cook said if Airmen take their military training seriously they can learn a lot from it.
“The Air Force does a great job at requiring annual and biannual training,” he said. “I think the military creates a stronger citizen who isn’t afraid to take charge in those types of situations.”
Master Sgt. Scott Neu, CS 40 AMT and Cook’s supervisor, said considering Cook’s medical background and military training, Cook was the right individual to aid both shoppers that day.
“What are the chances of facing two incidents in one day?” Neu said. “There’s no doubt in my mind Sergeant Cook couldn’t handle an unexpected situation like that.”
Although Cook has only served in the squadron for a couple weeks, Neu said he’s fit right in and earned cadets’ trust.
“He’s very approachable,” Neu said. “I noticed that right away and so did cadets. We’re like guidance counselors for them. Usually it takes a while for cadets to warm up to you and already they’re coming to him, asking for his advice. They’re also aware of his medical background. We have one cadet who has a shoulder injury who went to him for advice and he was able to guide her in a good direction. We’re a very family-oriented squadron, the “Warhawks,” and he’s a perfect match for us.”