By Steven Satkowski
USACE-Far East District Public Affairs
SEOUL, South Korea -- Walking into their office on the Far East District compound in Seoul last Dec. 30 Bob Lamoureux, emergency management specialist, and Jerry Giefer, emergency operations specialist, thought it would be just another day. The district was on a holiday schedule so the workload and staffing were at a minimum and they were the only two in the office. Lamoreaux took an early lunch at 11:06 a.m. and returned exactly a half-hour later to see his co-worker lying lifeless on the floor, unconscious with a gash on his forehead.
“I rolled him over, cleared the foam from his mouth and gave him some breaths to make sure he had a clear airway,” said Lamoureux. “Then I started Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).”
After the 10th compression Giefer coughed and exchanged air, but was still without a pulse, so he notified security guards at the compound’s front gate.
“The first thing they teach you in CPR training is to activate the emergency medical services (EMS),”
Lamoreaux provided nonstop CPR during the 12 minutes it took for the ambulance to arrive, part of training he received while in the military and a ski patroller. It was a life saving technique that maintained the flow of oxygen into Giefer’s body. Once the medical professionals arrived they used an automatic external defibrillator to get his heart beating again.
“None of the medical technicians can believe he survived,” said Lamoreaux, who offered these words of advice.
“Train, practice and be ready. You have to keep up with your skills. You never know when you might need to use them. I trained for 45 years since I was an 11-year-old boy scout for this moment. I never thought it would ever come but I was always prepared for it and it came.”
Giefer spent the next four days in a coma and was in the hospital for two weeks but has made a phenomenal recovery.
“Best of I’ve seen the man look,” said Lamoreaux. “He’s lost some weight and hasn’t missed a beat.”
Giefer is now back at work, grateful for his co-worker’s response and a second lease on life.
“He walked in at the nick of time,” said Giefer. “It was a quick reaction on his part. He knew exactly what to do. If I stayed home that day or was walking around somewhere else I’d be dead.”
In recent years there has been a greater emphasis on a healthy work and life balance by the Department of Defense. At the Far East District compound employees can benefit from an on-location fitness center and daily group health conditioning classes. Giefer said all employees at the district should take advantage of these opportunities.
“Get yourself checked out, especially as you get a lot older. Watch what you eat and exercise,” said Giefer.
The Red Cross at U.S. Army Garrison’s across the Republic of Korea also offers adult and pediatric CPR, first aid and automatic external defibrillator classes every month. Training that can one day save a life.