Reservist training, quick response saves life

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AIR RESERVE STATION, Minn. --

Imagine driving home and seeing a car swerve wildly, crash into a traffic sign, and hit a bicyclist. The driver is unconscious, with no breathing or pulse.

There are moments when fast and decisive action can save lives. Military service members are exposed to life-and-death situations much more frequently than many people might be in the course of their day-to-day lives. However, the training they receive can carry over and provide a direct benefit to their local communities.

Senior Airman Zachary Westfall, a reservist with the 934th Logistics Readiness Squadron, had just such an experience following the July unit training assembly. The scene described above happened to him as he was leaving base. Westfall managed to turn his vehicle around and first ensure the safety and status of the bicyclist. Once he was assured that the cyclist was unharmed, he approached the vehicle and found the driver unconscious, not breathing, and without a pulse. “I saw her head was up against the window and knocked out, and I knew I had to get out of the car and help,” said Westfall.

Westfall instructed a bystander to call 911 and provided CPR until the police showed up and took control of the scene. As a Physical Training Monitor, Westfall had recently completed his annual CPR certification, meaning he was able to quickly step in and provide emergency assistance.

The heroic and decisive actions taken by Westfall saved the life of the elderly driver, who was resuscitated with the aid of Westfall’s CPR and an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator. As for Westfall, he doesn’t think of himself as a hero. “It was just kind of spur of the moment, nothing to be afraid of. I was just going through the motions, doing what I had to do,” Westfall said of his actions.

The word “hero” is often used liberally to describe the men and women who choose to put on the uniform and serve their country. Military members even take the things they do on a daily basis for granted, because their job demands it. However, there are times when a servicemember’s actions are indeed heroic.

In his civilian life, Westfall works as a mechanic for Kemp’s, and lives in Rochester, Minn.