DLA Police, HQC Fitness Center employees save a life

By Chris Erbe

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Training and quick action by staff members and Defense Logistics Agency Police officers saved the life of a DLA employee Nov. 2 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.

At about 6:30 p.m., HQC Fitness Center staffers Olga Cardoso and William Chappell heard a call for help coming from the cardio workout room. They ran to the scene and found a female on the floor next to a treadmill exhibiting what they thought were signs of a seizure. While Chappell and a gym member assisted the woman, Cardoso ran to the office and called 911 and the security office.

In response, two DLA Police officers, Capt. Gary Giseke and Sgt. Jason Carey, rushed to the scene with an automated external defibrillator. They determined that the woman was having a heart attack and applied the AED to her.

Back at the security office, DLA Police Staff Sgt. David Young managed the arrival of the Fort Belvoir emergency medical technicians and the Fort Belvoir Fire Department, keeping his colleagues informed over two-way radio. When the EMTs arrived at the building, DLA Police officers Sgt. William Epps and Lt. Mark Stefan met them and guided them to the scene.

After the arrival of DLA Police, only about 7 minutes passed before the EMTs reached the patient and stabilized her for transport to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

According to the American Heart Association, quick action to reestablish heart rhythm is extremely important in cases of a heart attack. After 3-5 minutes, irreversible brain or tissue damage can occur. Also, the chance of survival decreases with every passing minute.

In this incident, the speed with which DLA Police officers administered defibrillation to the patient greatly improved her prognosis. DLA Police later said the cardiologist at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital noted that had it not been for the actions of the first responders reviving the heart through defibrillation, the patient would not be alive today.

The AED is a portable electronic device used to diagnose life-threatening heart problems and treat them through the application of electrical energy—otherwise known as defibrillation—which allows the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm, according to the Federal Drug Administration. Often when you find a fire extinguisher in the HQC building, you’ll see a defibrillator in a glass and metal case mounted to the wall marked “AED.”

Every member of the DLA Police assigned to the McNamara Headquarters Complex receives instruction on the use of AEDs, said DLA Police Chief Kevin McKay.

“We train on nights and weekends and update everyone’s qualifications and certifications annually,” McKay said. “We always have to be prepared, because you never know when a real-life situation will occur.”

The evening after the incident, several DLA Police officers involved in the rescue visited the patient at the hospital, where they found her awake and sitting up in bed. They said she was very appreciative and gave each one of them a hug.

“I was very proud of them,” McKay said. “This outcome assures me, and I think it has convinced all of our officers that the key to successful first response is preparation. This incident has really increased our appreciation for the benefits of training.”