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Maintainer saves choking friend’s life
Abe Herrera, left, and Joe Hernandez, right, 47th Maintenance Directorate aircraft maintainers, shake hands and pose for a photo in the T-1 Hangar at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2014. Herrera performed the Heimlich maneuver on Hernandez, saving him from choking. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet)
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Maintainer saves friend's life

Posted 3/24/2014   Updated 3/24/2014 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


3/24/2014 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An aircraft maintainer with Laughlin's 47th Maintenance Directorate, through quick action, saved the life of fellow maintainer March 12.

A normal morning turned into a life-saving experience when Abe Herrera prevented Joe Hernandez, both 47th MX aircraft maintainers, from suffocating by performing the Heimlich maneuver after Hernandez began choking on a piece of food during breakfast.

"Maybe two or three times a week, the guys and I pitch in and take turns making breakfast around the 9 a.m. break," said Herrera. "It was my turn to cook so I made breakfast tacos."

As breakfast was being served, the crowd of workers filled the break room. They relaxed and talked as they enjoyed their tacos before having to get back to work.

As the break was coming to an end, Hernandez gasped, stood up and started to wave his arms frantically.

Herrera and those around him could see something was wrong but it wasn't until someone said, "I think he's choking," that Herrera moved to help, explained Herrera.

Herrera made his way to Hernandez and immediately patted him on his back. After failing to dislodge the food in Hernandez's throat, Herrera turned Hernandez around and began performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"I've never done the Heimlich maneuver myself, I've only seen it performed on others," said Herrera. "It all happened so fast. I just knew he was choking and I did what came naturally to me."

It took a few tries, but Hernandez was finally able to spit the food out and began breathing properly.

"I thank God he was around," said Hernandez. "He saved my life. I am very grateful to Abe."

It wasn't done for glory, it was just instinct, explained Herrera.

"Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things," said John Jasper, 47th MX aircraft maintenance division chief. "Herrera's situational awareness and quick actions contributed to saving the life of Hernandez, he's a hero."



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