Wingman saves airman

By Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs on June 22, 2017

It was a normal day for a group of airmen enjoying a meal together until things went from fun to dangerous. Airman 1st Class Chelsea Lowery, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron customer service technician, became unable to breath after she started choking on a piece of food June 5.

Luckily, Lowery was not alone and received assistance from Airman 1st Class Joshua Jourdan, 627th LRS deployment specialist, who quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, clearing her airway.

"One of us made a joke and she was in the middle of eating when she inhaled the food," said Jourdan. "At first she just started coughing and then the coughing ceased. That's when I knew I had to act."

A scary situation for everyone, the signs of choking and the need for help were clearly present to him, said Jourdan.

"I used to be a life guard in the YMCA a couple years ago and they teach you CPR, first aid, and how to clear an airway," said Jourdan. "I'm thankful it didn't get to a point where I'd have to perform CPR."

The whole incident happened in less than a minute, said Lowery.   

"It was scary that I couldn't catch my breath," said Lowery. "I'm thankful that he was there and able to help me. I think the mindset is that you think this will never happen to you, until it happens."

Having been certified by the Red Cross in CPR, Jourdan said he felt calm and confident in the situation.

"My certification might be expired, but I still remember what to do and when the time comes to use it I remember the steps," said Jourdan. "I performed the Heimlich maneuver and gave her two to three pumps right above the belly button, and she coughed up the food."

In events like this, not everyone responds the same, and keeping calm is important, said Jourdan.

"It's either fight, flight or freeze," said Jourdan. "In those moments, I was just fighting. I acted as soon as the opportunity presented itself."

Not an everyday occurrence, this was not the first time Jourdan performed life-saving care to someone. In 2015, Jourdan was inner-tubing with friends when he came across an individual experiencing heat exhaustion. He immediately began to treat for shock and cared for him until paramedics could arrive.

"I was talking to him the whole time trying to keep him conscious," said Jourdan. "I put him in the shade and had him squeeze my finger so I would know when he was passing in and out of consciousness."

The individual Jourdan treated had been drinking the night before, hadn't had much sleep nor eaten, was dehydrated, and was drinking at the time of the incident.  

"It was a hundred degrees out and he had been throwing up prior to passing out," said Jourdan. "He could have experienced a heat stroke if not treated."

His training and natural instincts kicked-in for both situations, said Jourdan.

"The whole time I was a life guard, I never had to save anybody," said Jourdan. "Any situation can go from normal to horrible in seconds, and it's important to be prepared to react when you notice the indicators of potentially life-threatening factors."