CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Combat medics, trained to provide care at a moment’s notice, demonstrated their technical competence as they performed lifesaving steps to a battle buddy clinging to life.
“I poked my head in (the room) and I saw him on his back,” said Sgt. Justin Shove, combat medic specialist and Marysville, Washington native, 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment “Regulars,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (Rotational).
Shove ran into his suitemate’s room and witnessed Cpl. Michael Decoeur, Crawfordville, Florida, combat medic specialist, 4-6 Inf. Regt., unconscious, eyes wide open, his skin turning blue and gasping for air at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, Feb. 20. Decoeur was having a heart attack.
“His body was compensating for the fact that his heart stopped,” said Shove.
Shove checked Decoeur’s pulse and noticed his heart rate was weak, but steady. He contacted Sgt. Juan Ramos, Phoenix, Arizona native, platoon sergeant, 4th Bn. 6th Inf. Regt., who called 911 to send emergency medical services to the barracks.
Shove then left the room and banged on Spc. Joel Galavez, 4-6 Inf. Regt. combat medic specialist and San Jacinto, California native, screaming his name, then returned to Decoeur’s side to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Ramos soon arrived and the three medics provided CPR in shifts until EMS arrived at the scene.
“The EMS personnel kind of worked around us,” said Ramos, 4-6 Inf. Regt. “They could tell we knew what we were doing. We kept performing CPR until the emergency medical technicians had to take Deceour to the hospital.”
Decoeur was transferred to Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital in Dongtan in critical condition. He was later medically evacuated to Tripler Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii for advanced care and rehabilitation.
Decoeur’s teammates credit constant training and the high state of readiness enforced throughout the brigade for their actions on that day.
“It was really no time to be scared,” said Ramos. “We saw what we needed to do and luckily we had a positive outcome to where he has the best chance to make a full recovery.”
Decoeur’s status has since improved.
“When your leadership says, ‘you gain muscle memory by doing it over and over again,’ it’s true,” said Ramos. “I was surprised at how fast it comes back to you when you are put in a situation that actually requires the knowledge.”