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From practice to play: 19th AMXS Airman saves life

Man stands in front of a C-130J wearing OCPs.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brett Bibel, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, responded with a sense of urgency to a man showing symptoms of a cardiac arrest after his rugby match in Little Rock, Arkansas, October 5, 2019. Bibel used the AED and CPR training he received from the Air Force to respond to the incident and help save a man's life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brett Bibel, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, responded with a sense of urgency to a man showing symptoms of cardiac arrest after his rugby match in Little Rock, Arkansas, October 5, 2019.

Bibel had been grilling the food for the social following the game, and noticed the rival team’s coach was not feeling well. Since it was a very hot day, the coach decided to sit in an air conditioned car to cool off.

“I was cooking burgers and I heard a woman scream,” Bibel said. “I went over to look, and one of my teammates had pulled the coach out of the car. My teammate checked the man’s pulse to see if he was breathing. He didn’t have a pulse, so I went to grab the automated external defibrillator we keep on site while my teammate started doing chest compressions.”

According to Bibel, he had become recertified in the use of an AED and CPR just a few days prior for his duties in the Air Force, so the information was fresh in his mind.

“I hooked him up to the AED and it analyzed him,” Bibel said. “It recommended I shock him, so I did. Nothing happened at first but shortly after my teammate started doing chest compressions again, he gasped for air.”

The ambulance was called prior to beginning chest compressions, however, the nearest hospital was 15 minutes away from the field where they were playing.

“The first people to show up were volunteers from the fire department, but they couldn’t do anything more than what was already being done,” Bibel said. “Finally, the ambulance got there to take over. They said he was in the process of having a massive heart attack, but he was as stable as he could be considering the circumstances.”

The coach was taken to the hospital where he was put into surgery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of heart-related deaths occur before a patient arrives at a hospital, emphasizing the important role of pre-hospital emergency medical care in the “chain of survival” for heart attacks. Medical professionals involved in responding to this incident directly attribute the coach’s survival to the use of the AED and CPR response.

 “I want to commend the folks at the Little Rock Rugby Club for saving a life,” said Mack Hutchinson, Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services quality manager. “Having an AED on site, trained personnel and the motivation to use it makes all the difference in the world for our patient outcomes.”

Not only were they applauded by the hospital staff, they also found out how important their quick response was to saving this man’s life.

“The guy in the ambulance told us that only 10 percent of patients outside of a hospital setting survive a massive heart attack, so luckily we were able to help him,” Bibel said.

Because of training he received from the Air Force, Bibel was able to model the teamwork necessary in identifying an emergency and reacting in order to save a human life.

“The Air Force and the 19th AW really gave me the tools to help other people in the case of an emergency,” Bibel said. “I am so glad I could help this person because otherwise, who knows what could have happened.”