by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
The night was quiet and warm on the Naval Construction Battalion Center 14 June.
The gusts of wind in the salty humid air made firefighter Dillon Beech’s cotton polo cling to his skin as he walked through the firehouse bay that is home to their ladder truck.
What was turning out to be a much needed uneventful night, was shattered by an alarm. Somewhere on base, out in the deceptively calm night, a Sailor was in trouble.
As the team of five clambered into their gear and onto their truck not knowing what they would find, the dispatch directed them to the Bldg. 316a unaccompanied barracks where a service member had reportedly collapsed and was unconscious.
As the crew raced to the scene, Assistant Chief Tony Cothern called for medical backup ambulance from off base.
The crew burst through the service member’s door and found him lying in the middle of his barracks room with members of the base security team already on the scene providing chest compressions.
Knowing that time was of the essence, firefighter Dillon Beech stopped security and checked on the unconscious patient.
The service member was pretty far gone not responding to shouts or painful sensations.
Beech was able to find a pulse, but it was weak and he knew it was only a matter of seconds before it was gone.
The service member’s breathing was shallow and very weak. With signs of oxygen deprivation showing due to his cold skin and blue lips, face and extremities.
The crew worked quickly to run a nasopharyngeal (breathing tube ran down the nasal airways) tube and hooked it up to an oxygen tank.
The service member’s pupils were fixed and constricted. Relying on his training, Firefighter David Barringer recognized these symptoms and gave a dose of Narcan, a drug that counters the effects of narcotics.
Soon, with the oxygen being pumped manually into the patient’s body and the effects of the Narcan taking effect, color began to return to the service member and he was starting to become responsive again and attempting to breath on his own.
Simultaneously, the ambulance arrived and was loaded up and headed screaming into the night toward the emergency room.
These actions saved the life of a service member who had made what could have been a life ending choice.
For their bravery and medical proficiency that contributed to saving the life of the patient, they were awarded a department “Life Saving Award”.
The five firefighters can now wear this emblem proudly on their daily uniforms as a badge of pride for being the last line of salvation for this service member.
“I am extremely proud of this crew. They worked together, used their training and expertise and saved a life. This is what all those hours of preparation and training are for. It all boils down to this and they performed perfectly,” said T.J. Maury, NCBC Fire Chief.