Delivery of life saving actions

Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Gauger, a health services technician with the Health, Safety, and Work-Life Field Office Detachment Juneau, poses for a photo April 28, 2016. In recognition for saving a person’s life, Gauger received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Gauger, a health services technician with the Health, Safety, and Work-Life Field Office Detachment Juneau, poses for a photo April 28, 2016. In recognition for saving a person’s life, Gauger received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow.

Helping others is something that’s ingrained in all that wear the Coast Guard uniform. For many, it’s the very reason for joining the service and is the most fundamental condition of the job.

On an early Tuesday morning, Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Gauger, a health services technician with the Health, Safety, and Work-Life Field Office Detachment Juneau, received an urgent message that a Coast Guard civilian employee was having a heart attack.

As the duty HS watchstander, Gauger rushed to the scene and found the man lying on the ground unresponsive, not breathing and without a pulse. Gauger noticed near the man was an automated external defibrillator, a device that both diagnoses a patient’s condition and provides electric shocks to help jump start the heart. Once Gauger gauged the severity of the situation, he sprung into action.

“The training literally does take over,” said Gauger. “You just jump in. Any of my fellow HS’s would have done the same. The results would have been the same.”

Gauger gained as much information from coworkers who had been at the scene as he could, assessed the patient’s condition and commenced delivery of life saving actions. Gauger administered the use of the defibrillator, along with providing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, until paramedics and advanced life support services arrived.

This would be the first time in Gauger’s career that he would put these specific life saving skills into use. Skills he had learned the moment he entered the health services technician rate.

“For the HS rating, the first thing you do when you go to A-school is certify BLS, or basic life support,” said Gauger. “And that’s both CPR and AED use. Proper CPR is very simple and so important. Everybody should be trained on how to do it. AEDs are very simple devices, anyone should be able to grab one and get it hooked up.”

In recognition for saving a person’s life, Gauger received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal on the same day he advanced to Petty Officer 1st Class. The Achievement Medal is given to those who have gone beyond what is normally required or expected in the Coast Guard. Gauger’s decisive actions not only saved a person’s life but afforded them the ability to return to a normal life.

“It’s surreal knowing that your actions helped to save a person’s life, and this emphasizes how important it is to know and keep these basic skills,” added Gauger.

Gauger soon after contacted the critical care unit for an update and was greeted on the phone by the patient’s daughter. She told him her father was doing well and the doctors expected a full recovery. The patient has since returned to work.

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