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All in a day's work: IG inspector saves woman's life over lunch

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
All he wanted was a pastrami sandwich.

But as Senior Master Sgt. Michael Amacker waited for his number to be called in line at the Air Force Academy's commissary deli March 13, he got more than he bargained for.

"Off to my left, I heard someone shout out for paper towels and gloves. I thought maybe somebody had dropped something. I guess I was just being nosy," Sergeant Amacker said. "But there was a woman on the floor and she had vomited. One of the store employees (also an EMT with the local fire department) was with her, so I went over and asked if I could help. I told him I was a firefighter too, so the woman was lucky in some ways."

Sergeant Amacker, assigned to the AETC Inspector General team at Randolph Air Force Base, was at the Air Force Academy as part of a team conducting a Unit Compliance Inspection. He was on a lunch break from his daily schedule of inspecting the Academy's fire department.

As other patrons continued to shop around them, Sergeant Amacker and the employee, David Pamplin, tried to help the woman -- who they suspected was having a seizure. "She was unresponsive, but since she was breathing we decided to just support her until the ambulance and fire department arrived."

When the woman's breathing began to slow, the sergeant went to look for the store's Automated External Defibrillator -- a kit capable of delivering electric shocks to a patient with the intent of restoring a heart beat. Someone beat him to it, so he returned.

As they prepared the kit, the victim stopped breathing.

Sergeant Amacker used the pocket mask from the AED and attempted rescue breathing. He then discovered she had no pulse. He and Mr. Pamplin started CPR and attached the AED, which advised a shock be delivered. The fire department and ambulance crew arrived as they delivered a second shock. The fire department crew took over and continued CPR.

A few moments later, the woman's pulse returned and she began breathing on her own.

As the ambulance took off for the hospital with the woman he'd helped save, Sergeant Amacker took a moment to process what had just occurred.

"I was surprised, because I'd have thought I'd be real jazzed. Although I was happy about being able to help, I really felt like it was something I'd been training to do for a long time and it was just nice to be able to do it," Sergeant Amacker said, noting that he has years of firefighting experience, has been a CPR instructor and also taught Self Aid and Buddy Care.

After the excitement died down, Sergeant Amacker's thoughts moved quickly to other priorities: getting back to work ... and his sandwich.

"They offered to give me the sandwich free, but I insisted on paying for it ... I just did what I was supposed to do," Sergeant Amacker said. "To me, it was like I just happened to have these tools and was able to help that lady. I guess if I wanted people to take anything out of this experience it would be to go learn CPR.

"This is my sixth time having to use it in 20 years. It's my first save. But still, one out of six is worth doing. It's a life saved."

Lt. Gen. John F. Regni, U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent, surprised Sergeant Amacker March 17 by presenting him with a coin in front of the crowd assembled for the IG outbrief.
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