NAS Whiting Field credits team members for saving a life

Posted on December 4, 2019 by Staff reports

NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer, Capt. Paul Bowdich, presents Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate Shane Ammons with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his actions saving a life in Milton Oct. 30. (Photo by Julie Ziegenhorn, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Officer)

For many service members, hanging up the uniform at the end of a shift signifies the end of the workday and the beginning of some much needed downtime. Two NAS Whiting Field (NASWF) employees recently found out that is not always the case.

On Oct. 30, Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handling) Shane Ammons and NASWF Patrolman Douglas Waller, retired US Navy, were enjoying an evening with fellow members of the 210th Branch Fleet Reserve Association in Milton, Fla., until things took an unexpected turn.

“Does anyone know CPR?” a woman cried out as she pushed through the front door. Without hesitation, both Ammons and Waller sprang into action and rushed to help.

“My initial reaction was fear, but I literally jumped out of my flip-flops to help,” said Ammons. Only after losing his footwear was Ammons pointed outside to the scene where he then saw a man unconscious in the driver’s seat of his truck.

As Waller approached the vehicle, he described seeing the man as unresponsive and “blue in the face.” To make matters worse, the man’s physical stature also proved to be a challenge.

“I didn’t really think of the idea until it happened, but I was able to pull the seat handle and lay him flat on his back while he was still in the vehicle,” said Waller. “He was a bigger guy, so CPR would have probably worked better there than trying to get him out of the truck.”

Ammons and Waller worked as a team alternating between giving chest compressions and rescue breathing until paramedics arrived. After nearly five minutes and three cycles, they were able to detect a pulse and soon saw visible signs of breathing. Once on scene, paramedics informed them the individual had suffered a heart attack and that their actions saved his life that day.

Waller, a native of Titusville, FL., and former 1st Class Gunners Mate of twenty-years said, “We took an oath to serve. We train for this sort of thing and it feels good that I got to put the training to use and save a life that day.”

Ammons, originally from Lowell, IN, previously served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) before joining the Navy. Since joining the Navy, training for these types of situations is common, especially within the ABH rating. Firefighting, rendering first aid, and practicing CPR are among the many forms of training within the profession.

“I take training very seriously,” said Ammons. “We never expect things like this to happen, but we train like it’s the real thing.”

When asked if he felt like a hero that day, Ammons said, “I try not to think about it too much. I really don’t know what a hero feels like. I’m just proud that we saved his life.”