Coasties are Semper Paratus all the time

Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Holm, a health services technician stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore, assisted a woman aboard an airplane needing medical attention. U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

By: Lt. Ryan Erickson, Sector Juneau

Yesterday afternoon I took a flight from Juneau to Anchorage en route Valdez for a two day conference. The flight itself was nothing amazing; in fact I’d even call it lackluster except for the medical emergency we had about halfway through the hour and a half-ish flight.

There was an elderly lady sitting about four rows ahead of me on the other side of the plane who, I believe, also required a wheelchair and an attendant to get around. All-in-all not in the best of health.

At the aforementioned halfway point the lady complained about being short of breath which seemed to really worry the flight attendant by the look on her face. She, the flight attendant, made her way to the head of the plane and asked across the intercom if there was a doctor or any medical personnel inboard. It was, actually, almost cliche the way it came across the intercom.

Nonetheless, sitting to my left, and on the other side of the rather large man between us, was a Coast Guard medic (an HS1) who, as seemingly without hesitation, pressed the call button above us to note he was indeed the medic type and would be more than ready to assist- he was the only one onboard the flight that did press the call button.

The gentleman between us asked him if he was indeed a doctor to which I overheard him simply reply “no, I’m a Coast Guard medical and EMT.” Hearing that put a huge smile across my face.

Without thought, Arron (I asked his name) hurled himself to the situation to help a complete stranger as our Shipmates do so very often.

I couldn’t tell you if the woman he was helping was on the verge of death or not. But I can tell you that with him there taking her pulse, checking her oxygen, and comforting her- a huge calm seemed to come over her and her family.

Coasties do this day-in and day-out. They are on the front-lines helping complete strangers everyday without thinking twice. Whether they’re rescuing someone off off of a sinking boat, saving those beset by hurricanes, or helping an old lady breath better we’re, as this HS1 showed, living up to our moto of Semper Paratus… Always Ready.

When Holm was asked about the experience, here is what he said:

“There was a woman aboard experiencing shortness of breath and they asked if anyone aboard had any medical training to push their call button, so I did. She already had an oxygen mask on her when I got to her. I kneeled beside her and took her vitals. I was given a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff to work with so I took her vitals, filled out paperwork and noted her medical history,” said Holm.

When the aircraft landed an ambulance was on the ground to meet us.

“I learned these skills in EMT school and it was exciting to be able to use them,” he added.