Skip to comments.GIs react quickly to fallen civilian
Posted on 02/18/2008 6:44:01 AM PST by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA It was only a few days before students at the Intelligence Center would leave the post for home.
The annual holiday break, known as Exodus, was coming.
Pfc. Paul Cardenas and Pvt. Benjamin Gaines stood in line at Popeyes, an eatery at the post Exchanges Mini Mall near Prosser Village, where students live.
Both soldiers had just finished a combat lifesaver course and were waiting to order chicken for lunch when a man collapsed.
I was really paying attention to what I was going to order, when he fell down, said 30-year-old Cardenas.
People began to scatter, and no one appeared to want to help, he said.
He and Gaines, 19, communicated without nearly saying a word as they rushed to the older gentleman, said Cardenas, who calls West Texas home.
It all happened so quick, he said.
Gaines, from El Segundo, Calif., agreed.
Both soldiers are members of Company D, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion and are going through the intelligence analyst course.
The man fell face first, and as they approached him they thought he was having a stroke or a heart attack.
He was turning a bluish green, Cardenas said.
Gaines said the man was cold and clammy.
Cardenas, a former police sergeant, checked for a pulse and found a real faint one as Gaines rolled the man over to begin administering CPR.
Less than an hour before the incident, the two had completed a first aid class. What was taught came rushing back to them as they remembered the ABCs of helping a person.
Cardenas said he also experienced some incidents requiring first aid when he was a police officer.
As for Gaines, he, too, had some experiences in helping near-drowning victims as he grew up near the Pacific Ocean.
The man, whose identify and fate are unknown, became conscious and the soldiers spoke to him trying to see if he was lucid.
He was a tall, thin guy, Gaines said, who estimated him to be in his 60s. The man was reportedly a contractor from out of state.
The man kept pointing at his chest indicating he was in pain and his breathing was labored, the soldiers said.
A younger person who was with the victim didnt know what to do, Gaines said.
As they worked on the older man, Cardenas directed another private to call 9-1-1, and Gaines told another pair of privates to go outside to wait for the ambulance.
Neither one of them could remember how long it was from when they went to help until the man was being treated and transported by emergency medical, although they estimated the total time was around five minutes.
As they worked on him, they kept asking questions and even though he answered, a few of his responses indicated he was in shock.
He couldnt remember some things like where he was, Cardenas said.
Gaines and Cardenas have developed a second sense about each other. Battle buddies at the Intelligence Center, the soldiers connection began when they went through basic training together at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Cardenas knows it was late to enlist in the Army, noting he took a pay cut.
But his wife, Nicole, and he talked and made a decision about it, he said. They have two children, daughter Alyssa, 9, and son Jonathan, 8.
Saying he wanted to do something for the country and serving in the Army was a good way, Cardenas said he and his wife know the right decision was made.
Gaines had the same reason for enlisting, for he, too, wanted to do something for the country.
After the excitement at the eatery died down, the two got back in line to finally order. Some of the management staff wanted to buy their lunch, but they declined.
To them, it was no big deal. They didnt want any publicity.
We just did what we were trained to do, Gaines said.
But they found out the aftermath of the incident was out of their hands, especially when a retired sergeant major approached them and asked for their names.
You dont tell a sergeant major no, they said.
After returning from holiday leave, they each received an additional four-day pass. By then, what they did was all over at the training center.
Gaines said the news quickly went through the PNN, the privates news network, a word-of-mouth system.
As for their short delay in eating that day in December, both soldiers ordered a two-piece chicken meal.
Herald/Review senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We just did what we were trained to do, Gaines said.
Gotta love these guys.
Real heroes are all around us...you never know....Great job soldiers!!!!!
..and they were just starting out. They were in AIT their training right after basic and before going to their first unit.
Heroes and Angels,.. Heroes and Angels.
Heartwarming. This (former) captain salutes!
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