Teamwork and courage saves the life of an Airman

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bryon M. Turner
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
An individual once said, "Fate rarely calls upon us at a time of our choosing;" a piece of wisdom several Flying Yankees can personally attest to after their combined efforts saved the life of a fellow Airman on April 4, 2014.

As Col. James Galloway, commander of the 103rd Medical Group, completed his annual physical fitness test, he and the physical training leader who administered the test, Tech. Sgt. Anthony Gagliardi Jr., a budget analyst with the 103rd Maintenance Group, noticed a fellow Airmen in distress off in the distance.

Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Salsbury, a labor relations specialist with the Connecticut National Guard was struggling to stay on his feet after completing self-paced physical fitness training moments before. His heart began to beat irregularly; shortly thereafter, he collapsed sustaining a significant injury to his head after impacting with the hard pavement.
Salsbury was about 35 yards away when he crashed to the ground, said Galloway who immediately ran with Gagliardi to see what happened.

Galloway immediately went to work assessing Salsbury's vital signs as he took charge of the area and began issuing orders to nearby Airmen who were eager to help.
Salsbury was non-responsive and gasping for what would likely have been his final breaths, known by medical professionals as agonal respiration, said Galloway.

Galloway was unable to detect a pulse and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as Senior Master Sgt. Curt Robichaud, avionics section supervisor and Chief Master Sgt. Greg Boswell, the component maintenance chief, both from the 103rd Maintenance Squadron, ran into the nearby base gym to retrieve an automated external defibrillator.

A number of Airmen, including Tech. Sgt. Angel Santos, machine shop supervisor with the 103rd Maintenance Squadron, saw the commotion and immediately called 911 for emergency medical assistance.

The call for help would eventually reach the base firehouse via radio, where Master Sgt. Robert Cross, the chief of fire emergency services, quickly went to work directing resources to the scene.

According to Galloway, two cycles of cardiopulmonary resuscitation were completed before the automated external defibrillator arrived at the scene.

As Boswell and Robichaud attended to Salsbury's head wound, Master Sgt. Jonathan Shepard, an aircraft fuel systems specialist with the 103rd Maintenance Squadron, and Gagliardi worked to connect the defibrillator to Salsbury's chest.

Shepard, who was trained on both CPR and the AED, operated the device in concert with Galloway's guidance.

"Having used the real one now, I know the training AED is exactly the same as the real one," said Shepard. " talks you through the process."

The training automatically kicks in, blocking everything else out, and you know what to have to do, said Shepard.  

"I almost didn't want to push the button," said Shepard. "But I did, thankfully"

The AED was able to re-establish an effective heart rhythm and the team successfully revived Salisbury; within a few seconds he gasped for breath, but more help was still needed.

"For him to come back was an awesome feeling that we all did that good deed. It's changed my life," said Shepard. "I've never had a feeling like that to save someone's life. It was an intense feeling; I had adrenaline for the rest of the day."

Within seconds, Firefighters from the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron were on the scene. Staff Sgt. Lisa Deskis and Staff Sgt. Andrew Jolicoeur, both on duty as firefighters with the State Military Department, along side Firefighter Howard Coro, worked to further stabilize Salsbury, connecting him to medical monitors and a steady flow of oxygen.

After approximately two minutes of assisted breathing, Salsbury slowly began to regain consciousness and stable breathing, according to Deskis. The Firefighters continued providing basic life support until advance life support arrived on scene.

"The teamwork displayed by all of our responders is a testament to wing leadership's support of the CPR and first responders training programs as well as their willingness to provide the most current and state of the art tools to aid in emergency response," said Maj. Henry Chmielinski, commander of the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron.

Within 10 minutes of the initial incident, a civilian ambulance arrived on scene and brought Salsbury to the hospital for more extensive medical care, said Galloway.

According to the American Heart Association, "A strong Chain of Survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of heart attack, stroke and other emergencies."

The American Heart Association includes immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system, early cardiopulmonary resuscitation with an emphasis on chest compressions, rapid defibrillation, effective advanced life support, and integrated post-cardiac arrest care as links in that theoretical survival chain.

"The reason why this worked was because we acted as a team," said Galloway. "Every one of these people was an important part of this link."

Salsbury underwent quadruple bypass surgery several days later and is recovering well.

"How very, very fortunate I was to have that event happen where it did, and with such a caring group of professionals willing to step up on my behalf," said Salsbury. "I am forever in their debt."