EDWARDS AFB – Several Edwards AFB Airmen were at the 24 Hour Fitness Center in Lancaster, Calif., Sept. 25, when a man went into cardiac arrest.
Tech. Sgt. Elie Peán and Tech. Sgt. Maurice Lucas II, flight sergeants from the 412th Security Forces Squadron, were preparing for their evening workout when the man collapsed in the weights area.
“We were getting ready to start our workout and I was putting my shoes on, and then [Lucas’] wife tells him, ‘Hey, this guy’s out!’ So he runs over, checks on the guy and notes that he’s in cardiac arrest and wasn’t responsive,” said Peán. “Lucas yelled, ‘A.E.D.!’ He turned around and pointed to the guy on the ground and I ran over just when another man arrived there to tend to the vicitm, so I said, ‘Somebody call 9-1-1!'”
A staff member from 24 Hour Fitness began compressions for CPR while Lucas ran for the Automated External Defibrillator (A.E.D.) near the front desk.
“My wife said, ‘I’ve never seen you run so fast in your life,'” said Lucas.
“It was the most secure A.E.D. You’d think there was a gold brick in there or a stack of 100s. You had to unzip one compartment, pull a tab and open another compartment,” said Peán.
According to Lucas, as the gym employee and another man were performing CPR, the victim’s lips began to turn purple. The man’s son was also present at the time and volunteered to assist in the mouth breaths.
With Peán’s assistance, Lucas prepared the A.E.D., turned it on and when the staff members connected it to the victim, it immediately read, “shock advised.”
“That was my first time seeing an actual A.E.D. shock somebody,” said Lucas. “If you’ve ever seen them in the movies where they are at the hospital and they rub the paddles together, then put it on the body and say ‘clear,’ and then shock them; their body jumps. It’s no theatrics, it’s real.”
After a shock from the A.E.D., and some more compressions, life returned to the man lying on the gym floor who came to with a loud shout. He was then transported to the hospital and has since been released according to local sources.
“There was a huge crowd afterwards. I couldn’t continue my workout after the guy was transported because people kept coming up to us to say ‘thanks for your help getting the A.E.D. because you truly saved his life.’ Things like that,” said Lucas.
Both Lucas and Peán came to Edwards AFB just over five weeks ago. Lucas was previously stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and has served in U.S. Air Force Security Forces for 14 years. Peán moved here from Lackland AFB, Texas. He has spent the last 10 years in security forces.
Shortly after their arrival, both Airmen were re-certified to conduct CPR.
“That additional refresher course helped us out and instincts just took over [at the gym],” said Lucas. “You never really know when something like that is going to happen so you should always focus on what you’re being trained. It was an eye-opener for our troops.”
Police Officer Joshua Nine of the Air Force Plant 42 Security Forces also witnessed and assisted during the incident.
Lucas and Peán shared that as security forces officers, they are trained as first responders, medical support to regular law enforcement and security operations, force protection, anti-terrorism and more. The Airmen stated that they have to understand all aspects of the base and how each organization works together in order to better understand the installation and protect it.
“Tech. Sgt. Lucas and Tech. Sgt. Peán epitomize security forces and Air Force personnel in general,” said Lt. Col. Leonard Rose, 412th SFS commander. “They could have easily stood back and hoped someone else took charge of the incident, but they didn’t hesitate; they were decisive in their actions and a man is alive today because of them. I’m proud to have them as members of the 412th SFS.”
“Security forces, I tell people all the time, I love it, there’s no better career field. It’s one of the most diverse career fields we have in the Air Force,” said Peán.
Lucas added, “Over time I have learned to truly enjoy and love the Air Force, especially my career. I think security forces is one of the jobs that you can pretty much go to any country and do any job because we have defense attaches, people working in corrections, K-9 handlers and combat arms personnel. Security forces is everywhere.”