Airman attempts to save local national's life

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natasha Stannard
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Jason Perri stepped into his vehicle to drive to work. Darkness engulfed the view from his windows at 4:30 a.m. Aug. 11 save the strip of road illuminated by his headlights.

He saw only the road's dividing lines until his lights gleamed onto something waving in the distance. Two women parked on the side of the road were signaling to get his attention.

This was not a normal sight for the 701st Munitions Support Squadron custody forces member's drive to Kleine Brogel Air Base. He pulled over to assist the pair.

"I knew something was wrong," he said. "When I finally stopped and looked at what their headlights were shining on, I knew what happened. Everything around was dark. I couldn't see anything else except for what the headlights where shining on, which was the individual lying there."

Perri saw an un-moving, battered body on the ground.

"It was all surreal at first," he said of the situation. "I kept thinking, 'Is this real?' I thought 'Can I save him -- I mean, am I going to be able to really save this guy?' People think I wasn't nervous, but I definitely was. I was shaking."

He said that while he was nervous, he did keep a calm demeanor to comfort the two women who flagged him down. He felt it was important to remain calm and use the self-aid buddy care skills the Air Force equipped him with so he could take action and help the individual.

"Not everyone is cut out to do what he did," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Valenzuela, Perri's supervisor. "There are people that see things like this and freeze under pressure. Then there are people who see and are shocked at first, but the instinct to help someone kicks in, and that's what he did."

Perri took a breath, collected himself and sprang into action. First, he called his flight chief to notify him of the situation and then he asked the women if they called emergency services -- they did.

Perri then walked down to assess the injured's condition and noticed the individual lost a large amount of blood, was unresponsive and suffered a major head injury. Perri knew what he had to do.

"Everything I did was what the Air Force taught me," said the Airman who thought he would never have to use CPR.

He proceeded to ask one of the girls if they had a towel - they handed him one. Perri then angled the towel so it would be in the 'looking up' position creating a clear passage for air. Once the passage was clear, he began to perform CPR in intervals of 10. The paramedics arrived and told him to just keep going and don't stop.

He performed CPR until the paramedics hooked up all the monitors needed to check the injured vitals.

"I imagine I helped a lot because otherwise there would have only been one of the paramedics hooking up the vitals while the other performed CPR," he said.

As they stuck color-coded wires connected to beeping machines onto the individual's body, a second ambulance arrived. A doctor stepped out to assess the situation. She told her paramedics to continue CPR and asked Perri to hold the patient's IV bag and a flashlight so the paramedics could see.

Once the patient stabilized, the team loaded him into the ambulance to transport him to the hospital. Perri then stepped back into his vehicle to restart his original journey to work. He arrived and put as much effort toward his job as he always does.

"He came into work that day; he was still kind of shocked and concerned about the individual, but work-wise he still performed way beyond the standard," said Valenzuela.

But the injured man was still on Perri's mind.

"I called the hospital that day to check up on the individual," he said. "I called and told them I don't know his name, he came in at 6 a.m. with a head injury. I told them I don't want his name or any personal information I just want to know if he survived. They told me he's stable. He survived."

Perri was later saddened to hear the man's condition did not remain. He passed away Sunday evening due to major head trauma. With that news, Perri's thoughts turned to the deceased's family.

"If I could tell his family one thing, it would be that everybody tried," he said. "All the nurses and the doctors did everything they could to save his life - we all did. Everybody did their best."

"I hope others will learn from situations like this and not take any training for granted," he added of the event. "I wouldn't have known what to do without the training the Air Force supplied me with."