News: Marine saves local woman’s life
Story by Lance Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton
OKINAWA, Japan- Cpl. Eric J. Hansen put his training to work recently, saving an elderly woman’s life in Mihama.
Hansen, a Marine with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, was eating at a local restaurant with friends Kathy Linker, Lisa A. Verville and Maelo Cains when they noticed a group of people panicking.
“I looked to my right, where the victim’s family was sitting, and noticed that two of the family members were sticking their hands in the grandma’s mouth and patting her on the back,” said Linker.
Linker announced to her table that she thought the woman might be choking and realized the family needed assistance.
“I was at the table gesturing to the woman’s family members the Heimlich maneuver as soon as I realized what was going on,” said Hansen. Hansen received training on the Heimlich maneuver while attending Eastern Illinois University and also during recruit training.
Hansen signaled the Heimlich maneuver with his hands, indicating his intention to perform the maneuver on the victim, and the family, without hesitation, nodded their approval, said Linker.
Hansen checked the victim’s pulse and breathing and found neither, he said. Linker and Verville told the restaurant staff to call emergency personnel.
“Everyone around was in shock and at a loss of actions. I started the Heimlich,” said Hansen. “I knelt down behind her and performed the Heimlich until small pieces of rice and meat shards came out.”
Once the food came out, the victim began breathing again, but not for long.
“I heard her gasp for air, and she softly squeezed my hand,” said Hansen.
Cains checked for her pulse and told Hansen it was faint. Hansen had stopped performing the Heimlich because the family thought the woman had recovered, but moments later she lost her pulse and ceased breathing. Immediately, Hansen performed the maneuver a second time.
“All I could remember is that I did not want someone dying in my arms,” said Hansen. “Finally, after nearly giving up and reverting to rescue breathing, a massive piece of chicken came out of her mouth. Her pulse sky-rocketed and she was consistently coughing, all indicating to me that she was alive and well.”
According to Hansen, emergency personnel arrived on the scene about five minutes after Hansen’s second and successful attempt to save the woman’s life.
“After the ambulance took her, (the husband) was crying and saying thank you to Eric,” said Linker. “The family seemed really grateful for his help.”
The emergency personnel transported the elderly woman to a hospital, where she recovered, said Duane L. Burk, the family readiness officer of MASS-2.
“I realized that lifesaving training does not go to waste,” said Linker. “Like that day, it can help save someone’s life when you’re least expecting it.”
MASS-2 is part of Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.