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Learning a new skill may save a life

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steven R. Doty & Tech. Sgt. Robert Niter
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Emergency situations will happen at the time you least expect it.  For that reason, it is extremely important to always be prepared with the right skills. 

On Sept. 12, 2013, Tech. Sgt. Robert Niter, 47th Medical Group NCO in charge of optometry, demonstrated that preparedness.  He used what the Air Force taught him to save a man's life in Houston, Texas.  He was later honored as a hero of Houston by its mayor and commended by his leadership. 

Niter is the Basic Life Support program director for the 47th Flying Training Wing and his counterpart, Senior Airman Anthony Landwehr, 47th Medical Operations Squadron Aerospace and Operational Physiology technician, is the BLS program administrator.  Together, their mission is to equip individuals requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation training with the necessary tools to aid others when the time presents itself. 

"When an individual suffers a heart attack or collapses, their survival depends greatly on receiving immediate CPR from a bystander," said Niter. "Knowing what to do in these situations can mean the difference between someone living or dying and may even prevent temporary or permanent disability." 

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.

"CPR is essential for everyone to learn, as it provides life saving techniques to keep oxygenated blood moving throughout the body in the event of cardiac arrest," said Landwehr. "Given the danger levels of some of our jobs, it is uncertain when providing CPR may become necessary."

Niter and Landwehr are responsible for coordinating and scheduling individuals requiring CPR training.  In addition, they monitor instructors, provide guidance and ensure the instruction is in accordance with the Military Training Network standards. 

Although this course teaches the procedures required to revive a victim, it is also designed to develop more than skills in trainees. Providing confidence in your abilities to react quickly and effectively is just as important.

Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

"It is better to be trained to handle a situation than untrained and freeze when lives are on the line," said Landwehr. "If you are trained and come across a situation that requires CPR, remember it is better to do something rather than nothing at all." 

BLS classes are normally held each Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the 47th Medical Group's training classroom. 

For more information about becoming a BLS Heartsaver instructor, or to enroll into a course, contact Landwehr at 298-6444 or Niter at 298-6429. To learn more about CPR and what you can do to help, visit the American Heart Association website.

You can also read the story of Niter's heroic efforts on Sept. 12, 2014 here.