KILLEEN, Texas – Of the nearly 383,000 people who go into out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year, less than 8 percent end up surviving.
Due to the quick actions of one AH-64D Apache pilot with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, a local Killeen, Texas, man was fortunate enough to join that 8 percent.
The Killeen Fire Department awarded Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Hughes with the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, “Guns Attack,” 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, the Meritorious Service Award at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center in Killeen, Texas, Dec. 19, for the lifesaving measures he took to save a fellow Texas citizen last month.
The KFD Meritorious Service Award is presented to private citizens who, through active interest, concern, and effort, contribute to or assist the department in such a manner that distinguishes them and significantly benefits the department.
Hughes was driving back to Killeen, Nov. 9, after moving his mother-in-law from New Jersey to Texas, when he, his wife, and his 12-year-old son stopped at a local self-storage facility to return their U-Haul truck.
The manager of the facility, Harvey Owen, began inspecting the trailer and finalizing paperwork.
Mid-inspection, he began to stagger.
“When he walked back in the fenced area of the facility, he started to stumble,” said Hughes, a West Melbourne, Fla., native. “I assumed he tripped on a rock, but then he stumbled again and fell face-down after attempting to catch himself on a golf cart. I immediately ran to him to make sure he was alright.”
Hughes rolled Owen onto his side and asked him if he was OK; Owen told him to give him a minute. About a minute later, Owen took a turn for the worse.
“I tried to keep him talking and responsive, but he started breathing heavily, and after a short time, he started to turn blue,” Hughes explained. “I told my wife to call 911, and I checked for a pulse. His pulse was faint, if any, so I tilted his head back and started rescue breathing.”
Hughes’ son ran across the street to alert a state trooper who was parked nearby, and his wife, instructed by the 911 operator, directed her husband to commence CPR.
“I got no response while rescue breathing, so I began performing CPR, and after about three cycles of chest compressions [compressing the chest at least 2 inches with the heels of one’s hands], he began breathing on his own,” Hughes said. “Shortly after, the paramedics arrived, and I was properly relieved.”
After being relieved, paramedics informed Hughes that if he hadn’t performed CPR, Owen wouldn’t have survived.
Owen was rushed to the hospital in Temple, Texas, and was released weeks later after receiving lifesaving surgeries to remove blockages from his heart. He was healthy enough now to attend the KFD banquet and even presented Hughes the award.
“The main reward for me is just seeing he is OK,” Hughes said. “During the ordeal, the one thing on my mind was to get him breathing. I can’t say I didn’t panic at first, but then my training kicked in. I’m just glad he came out of this whole deal OK. Anyone would have done what I did. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Owen’s son, Brodie Owen, has taken care of his father in Austin, Texas, since the ordeal took place and has watched his father’s health increase dramatically since being discharged from the hospital.
“My 67-year-old dad is doing tremendously well now,” said Owen. “He was having symptoms for the last six months, but he was too stubborn to tell me or his doctors during his checkups. Doctors now say that within six months, he will feel better than he has for the last five years.”
Now living just miles from his father, the younger Owen has convinced him to retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
“I’m glad someone like Michael was there who had the training, desire, and ability to use the training and snap into action,” Owen said. “If Michael wouldn’t have jumped into action and performed CPR right then, I would have been burying my dad.”