Airman attributes life-saving act to AF training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
What started as a seemingly normal day for Airman 1st Class Ashley Brady turned into a life or death situation.

"On Saturday, Aug. 28, I went with my family and a group of church friends to Cold Brook Lake, Hot Springs, S.D," Airman Brady, 28th Maintenance Squadron isochronal maintenance apprentice, said in a Sept. 17 e-mail. "I decided the water was too cold for me, so I stayed in my clothes and opted to sit in the sun. It was sometime after lunch when I heard two men on the beach yelling for 'someone to help, get a boat - someone went down.'"

Airman Brady reacted without thinking and immediately dove into the water - while still fully clothed. She swam to a boat in the middle of the lake where Raymond Bald Eagle, the victim, was being pulled out of the water.

"I was exhausted, but still managed to climb over the other side of the boat and immediately began the CPR steps I had been refreshed on only weeks before," she said. "I must have been on auto-pilot, because I don't remember much about the ride to shore or getting out of the boat."

Airman Brady said she and the other rescuers believed Mr. Bald Eagle had been under water for nearly five minutes. He was blue and unresponsive.

"When we reached the shore, I assessed his vitals again and began chest compressions. At this point another church friend, also trained in CPR, was there to assist with the breathing. I did compressions while screaming commands for breaths. We did this for nearly 10 minutes until he began to choke, gurgle and breathe."

Debbie Kenaston, a Rapid City resident, assisted Airman Brady with CPR on Mr. Bald Eagle.

"I could see that Ashley was doing chest compressions, so I just started the breathing," Mrs. Kenaston in a Rapid City Journal news article, Aug. 31.

After he began breathing on his own, Airman Brady rolled Mr. Bald Eagle into the recovery position, she began rubbing his back and comforting him and the family around him. Once medical personnel arrived, Mr. Bald Eagle was taken to Rapid City and put in the intensive care unit for kidney failure and a lung infection. Once his condition stabilized, Airman Brady visited him in the hospital where he thanked her for saving his life and shared "a long overdue hug" with her.

"I can't begin to express how proud everyone in the 28th Maintenance Group is of Airman Brady," said Col. James Katrenak, 28 MXG commander. "Her actions bring honor and distinction to both herself and to the Air Force."

Airman Brady attributes her life-saving actions to the training she received in both the Air Force and at college.

"The fantastic training I received before the Air Force when I graduated college as a Dental Assistant and the training received while in the Air Force, made me robotic," she said. "There wasn't a question or hesitation, the call went out and I responded."

She was taught CPR, First Aid, and the importance of having a good "bedside manner" through her college. The Air Force was able to supplement that training with additional CPR, as well as self-aid buddy care. The combination of training and a desire to save Mr. Bald Eagle's life pushed Airman Brady to react quickly and effectively.

"I was born for this, it's in my nature," she said. "I used to wonder, 'would I actually remember my training if something were to happen?' I am proud of the way I functioned under pressure. It saved Raymond's life."

Airman Brady encourages all Airmen to take the training they receive seriously, because they never know when they will be called on to use it.

"Being Airmen we are certainly held to a higher standard," she said. "Please don't sit in these seemingly boring classes and think 'I'll never use this.' You may need to - and instead of a complete stranger, it may be your brother. Remember your training and have compassion."