(KTAB/KRBC) Dyess Air Force Base, Texas – On a hot July afternoon in Abilene, Texas, an apartment complex swimming pool was crowded with children and their parents trying to cool off. An enjoyable activity to beat the heat quickly turned into a tense situation, rushing to save a child’s life.
One child noticed his friend was missing at the same time he noticed a shadow eight feet under the surface of the water. He swam down to the shadowy figure where he saw his friend.
After the child brought his friend back above water, that’s when Tech. Sgt. Justin Dillinger, 7th Communication Squadron operations section chief, sprang into action to perform CPR in order to save the child’s life.
“I believe it was pure fate that I was at the pool because my son and I intended on going to a splash pad but changed our plans last minute,” Dillinger said.
After the child was pulled out of the pool, Dillinger noticed the child wasn’t breathing. Next, using the training he received from Air Force Self-Aid Buddy Care and CPR courses, he directed a bystander to call 911 and proceeded to perform chest compressions.
After several minutes of providing care for the child, water began to shoot out of his mouth and he started to breath.
“After he began spitting up water, I had a bit of relief because I knew he had a better chance of surviving,” Dillinger said.
Once the child became more responsive, Dillinger turned the child to his side and began rubbing his chest to help with circulation until the paramedics arrived to take control of the situation.
Approximately 10 minutes after the paramedics got to the scene, the boy was fully conscious and taken to a hospital for further inspection and medical support.
“I felt like the training I have received in the Air Force enabled me to provide the necessary care and help give him a second chance at life,” Dillinger said.
Air Force Self-Aid Buddy Care is training that encompasses basic life support and limb-saving techniques to help wounded or injured personnel survive in medical emergencies until medical help is available. This and American Red Cross CPR trainings are vital to ensure Airmen are prepared to operate in certain military environments. However, this training has also proven useful in a range of situations in which airmen find themselves off duty.
“We are trained for a variety of different scenarios in Air Force that we could find ourselves involved with,” said Lt. Col. Michael Harris, 7th CS commander. “Dillinger is the type of person who is willing to take charge and lead in difficult situations. I’m proud of him for stepping up and saving the child’s life.”
Dillinger spoke with the Airmen in his unit after the incident took place and provided them with some advice.
“The biggest thing that people should take away from this incident is that you can’t take life for granted, especially your children’s lives,” Dillinger said. “Our lives can drastically change at a moment’s notice.”
I’m just glad that he survived, he said.