Fort Leonard Wood first responders received awards Monday for saving a Marine’s life March 8 after he collapsed from full cardiac arrest.
According to the incident report, emergency crews were dispatched at 1:46 p.m. that day and found Marine Corps Pfc. Shannon Rhodes unconscious and unresponsive on the physical training track adjacent to Building 1612.
Lt. Jason Ploss and Sgt. Darrell Freed of the Fort Leonard Wood Police Department were the first to arrive on the scene, Fire Chief Brad Bowling said. They performed CPR and awaited additional responders from emergency medical services and the fire department.
“The crew from Engine 1752 took over patient care, continued CPR, secured the airway, and applied a (defibrillator),” Bowling said. “After multiple shocks with the (defibrillator), he was transferred to the medic unit and transported to GLWACH for further care. At this time, when he was loaded into an ambulance, he had regained a pulse and was attempting to breathe on his own.”
Bowling commented on the rarity of successful resuscitation after full cardiac arrest and commended those involved for accomplishing the improbable.
“I knew every second was crucial — there was no time for hiccups, no time for forgetting the simple things,” said Spc. Bryan Garcia, a firefighter with the 562nd Engineer Detachment. “We got off the truck and we just started charging. When we arrived on scene, immediately I jumped on rescue breaths.”
Rhodes was later transferred to the University of Missouri Hospital, where he underwent care and, several days later, walked out without any assistance.
Ploss and Freed received awards for their life-saving response alongside Fire Capt. Mike Copley, Firefighter Derek Etzler and Firefighter David Stoke.
Garcia, who was an Emergency Medical Technician in Southern California prior to joining the Army, received the Army Commendation Medal.
He said his background helped in responding quickly, but praised the additional skills he has learned at Fort Leonard Wood.
Representatives from the Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Leonard Wood attended the award ceremony and issued their gratitude to the responders.
“You do a job that is under-appreciated on a daily basis; you do it without asking for any recognition or any thanks other than the fact you know you’re doing the right thing,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Horace Bly said. “Thank you for saving one of our brothers.”
Director of Emergency Services Lt. Col. Graham Swenson spoke to Garcia one-on-one following the event and said his actions carried consequences full of hope.
“Someday, there’s going to be a family that’s going to exist,” he said. “That wife and those kids are never going to know who you are, but they’re going to owe their existence to you.”
When asked what this moment meant for him, Garcia responded humbly.
“We hope to make a difference in everybody’s life that we help,” he said. “I just have to thank the people around me, the people I work with in the fire department and our detachment, because without their training, without them confiding their trust in me to work alongside with them, it definitely wouldn’t (be) possible to arrive on scene and do what we do best.”