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ANG training results in first save

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- When Senior Airman Angel Alvarez ran a ten-mile tough mudder race July 14 in Stowe, Vt., it was a chance to demonstrate his physical skills. What he didn't realize was that it would also be an opportunity to use his medical skills, as well.

It was about three miles into his race when Alvarez, a 157th Civil Engineering Squadron firefighter who also is an emergency medical technician and firefighter in his civilian job, had an opportunity to use other skills that reunited a father with his daughter.

After stopping for a water break in humid 90-degree weather, Alvarez began hearing friends yelling his name. What happened next, Alvarez attributes to training he received as a member of the New Hampshire Air National Guard.

"My teammates were yelling my name because they knew I was a paramedic and trained in these high-stress situations," said Alvarez. "I sprinted towards a man who was down and unconscious and, soon discovered, had no pulse."

The man, estimated to be in his mid to late thirties, had collapsed due to a suspected heat stroke.

"I performed CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on the gentlemen while an off-duty EMT who had reached him seconds before performed mouth-to-mouth," Alvarez said. "We continued CPR for about six minutes before a tournament EMT arrived on scene. They didn't have an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) or oxygen with them so I told them we needed one right away."

With a large crowd growing, the man's friend was yelling over Alvarez's shoulder to "please help him" as well as repeating a girl's name over and over saying, "He can't leave her."

"I was so focused on my training," continued Alvarez. "It was like I had tunnel vision. There were so many people around me talking. I just focused them out like they weren't even there."

Assuming he had what he thought to be a young daughter at home, Alvarez stayed motivated to make sure a little girl didn't lose her father.

"My training with the Air National Guard helped me stay calm and really take control of the situation and exercise leadership," said Alvarez. "As a new firefighter and EMT in Nashua, I'm not put in many opportunities to lead. I defer to my lieutenant and other firefighters who have much more experience than I. However, in the guard and as a senior airman, I have an opportunity to lead junior members. I believe that experience contributed largely to my reaction."

Finally, at about the eight minute point, a tiring Alvarez finally got the AED and oxygen from an arriving EMT.

"When a tournament paramedic arrived on scene with the AED, we were able to revive him and bring him back," said. "His eyes opened and he was moaning. We asked him if he knew where he was--which he did--and if he knew what happened--which he didn't."
As a Nashua EMT, Alvarez has responded to four individuals in similar situations and has been unable to save each.

"It's strange that I have my first save at a place I wasn't even expecting to be in that situation," said Alvarez. "It all started at Pease. My senior leaders have made sure I'm trained and prepared for these situations."

Although he doesn't think what he did was that extraordinary, he contends anyone in his situation would have done the same thing.

"I guess you would say I was just in the right place at the right time," he said. "I'm sure anyone in my shoes would have done the same thing."

Although Alvarez may not think his actions were heroic, it's probably safe to say this man has a family that must think his ability to act under pressure is exceptional.
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