AFOTEC Det. 5, Edwards FES personnel work together to save teammate’s life

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Detachment 5, commander, Col. Glenn Rineheart, presented coins and offered his personal gratitude to the personnel he credits for saving the life of one of his civilian Airmen at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Dec. 3.

In early November, an AFOTEC Det. 5 member experienced a medical emergency. The individual suffered a seizure that prompted his teammates to render immediate care and call base emergency services. Through their quick action and the professionalism of first responders, Rineheart said the outcome may have been different.

“Thanks to you, we might have had a totally different holiday season,” Rineheart said to the first-responders as he personally thanked them. “No words can justifiably describe the level of gratitude I have for our team’s vigilance and initial care response and for the medical first responders’ expert and timely actions.”

The first two team members to come to that individual’s aid were his own co-workers.

“Everything happened just outside of my cubicle,” said Brenda Johnston, AFOTEC Det. 5. “Ms. (Elida) Narciso was calling out his name and hollered to me for help. I joined her at checking on the condition of my friend, colleague, and supervisor, who was unresponsive but not unconscious. He was lacking color in his face.”

Johnston and Narciso worked to keep him as safe as possible during a seizure, making sure he did not injure himself. At this time, another Det. 5 teammate had called base emergency services. Once on scene the medical professionals worked to stabilize the patient.

“I was so very thankful that I was able to be his voice when he couldn’t yell for help,” said Elida Narciso. “And I was so glad that during that time we were surrounded by great people who did not hesitate to do what they did to help him.”

After the patient was stabilized, Johnston said he was asked if he felt well enough to drive himself to the hospital. Johnston insisted her colleague that he should go in the ambulance. Fortunately, he agreed, and that may have ultimately saved his life as he soon went into cardiac arrest.

“I didn’t give him that choice, telling him they were already here and had him wired up already, so get on the gurney and go with them,” she explained. “Finding out that he coded in the ambulance as they were getting ready to pull out was nerve-wracking!”

Johnston said she was afraid they had lost him and she watched until the ambulance turned its lights back on and they pulled away. 

“No one dies in my ambulance!” exclaimed Tim Reynolds, a Paramedic and EMT Program Manager for the 412th Medical Group. As he recounted the experience along with his partner at the time, Staff Sgt. Christian Uttlinger.

Reynolds said his reaction to resuscitating the individual and ultimately transporting him to the hospital was one of amazement and relief.

“’Wow, that just happened; thank the lord above!’ In my over 20 plus years of EMS, I’ve witnessed death multiple times and it’s never something I wish upon anyone to experience,” Reynolds explained. “To see him come back from pulseless and apneic was truly a huge relief for not only myself but my thoughts travel to his family, friends and coworkers.”

For their total team effort, the medical first responders were presented coins by Rineheart, who also passed along his personal thanks at their individual work areas.

“My confidence has never been higher that, when placed in an emergency situation, Det. 5 members and our Team Edwards medical professionals will rise to, and surmount the challenge placed before them,” Rineheart said.

After the medical emergency, Narciso said the event has strengthened her bond with her Det. 5 family even more.

“I now make conscious effort to check on my co-workers before leaving work for the day,” she said. “I include them in my prayers, for protection and guidance. I just feel so blessed to be of assistance during that time, but I pray and wish that nothing like that happens again, especially here at Det 5.”

For their quick, life-saving actions, Johnston and Narcisa each received a cash award and a certificate in recognition of “A Special Act or Service” signed by the AFOTEC Executive Director, Mark Mehalic, which states, “…this single act of compassion for mankind of (Ms. Narciso and Ms. Brenda Johnson) reflects great credit upon herself and the Department of the Air Force.”

“I have been a part of AFOTEC. Det. 5 since 1991, it is my family away from home,” Johnston said. “I also know how close we came to losing a valuable member of this family. The real reward is that my friend is still with us today. Nothing else matters!”