Airman Saves Lives, Delivers Twins

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- It was a typical day for Senior Airman Rainier Jeffrey as he rode to the Upolu Hospital in Samoa. As a medical technician deployed out to sea with the Navy in support of the humanitarian operation Pacific Partnership 13, it was Jeffrey's job to share medical knowledge with the auxiliary nurses, as well as provide medical assistance at the village hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.    Working as a dental technician for this deployment, Jeffrey in-processed patients, checked their vital signs and document pertinent medical information in their charts.   This particular day the rain had deterred many of the locals from making the trek to the clinic, so Jeffrey decided to busy himself training the local dental staff on proper patient care and documentation procedures.   He was eating his lunch when the day took an unexpected turn: He was summoned into the treatment room by one of the local auxiliary nurses to assist with an elderly patient in distress.   The patient's pulse was irregular, her breathing was shallow and her extremities were getting cold and clammy. Jeffrey sprang into action initiating manual chest compressions, instructing his counterpart on how to administer proper rescue breaths and inserting an intravenous fluids bag. The resuscitation was a success, and the patient became stable. With the absence of hot water, Jeffrey improvised by using an MRE heating packet to warm the IV, and covered the patient with blankets to keep her warm as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.  

Believing the hard part was over, Jeffrey went to update the patient's family on her condition.   Moments later, he was again approached by one of the nurses with more shocking news. A patient had gone into labor. Without the help of a midwife or a physician present, he would have to deliver the baby. Jeffrey managed to deliver the baby and keep the patient stable. Then, to everybody's surprise, it turned out the  woman was pregnant with twins. Luckily, a midwife finally arrived just in time to finish afterbirth care and help with the birth of the second baby.   "I feel like any armed forces medic in my position would have done the same thing," he said reflecting back on the day. "Springing into action is what we are all trained to do in a tactical setting regardless of rank or specialty. I enjoy being a medic, and I definitely got an opportunity to do something that day that truly made me proud to be an Air Force medical technician."   Jeffrey, who has been in the Air Force for three years, said though he realizes he probably helped save lives that day, he doesn't consider himself a hero for doing what he was trained to do.   "My first thought was just to respond," he said. "At first I was drawing a blank because I was overthinking things, but as my hands started moving, my training came back to me and I started remembering the right steps and proper medical procedures. Though I was in no way completely comfortable, the adrenaline kicked in and the knowledge started resurfacing as I needed it, and it became second nature in a matter of seconds."   Maj. Wanda Edwards, Jeffrey's supervisor, said she was not surprised by Jeffrey's actions when she'd heard about the day's events.   "He is not one to sit by and let others take care of things," she said of Jeffrey. "His compassion and dedication were evident by his swift actions and immediate response at the clinic."   The major said she knows all too well the fear, excitement and sense of responsibility that comes with having a critical patient, but Jeffrey conducted himself exactly as she would have in the same situation.   "Out of my three deployments, he is by far the best medical technician that I have had the pleasure to be deployed with," she said. "I am so proud of him, and his professionalism and leadership shine through every day. As medical responders, we never know what we will face and I can trust our Airmen to not only respond appropriately, but exceed the expectations."   Two saved lives and one baby later, Jeffrey recalls how what started out as a normal day ended up becoming anything but.   "After the shock of the event wears off, you realize that everything you did resulted in keeping someone alive," he said. "The sheer thought brings an overwhelming sense of happiness, elation and a sigh of relief gets sprinkled in there somewhere. It's a mass of mixed emotions and truly an indescribable feeling."

Show Full Article

Related Topics

Air Force Topics