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Airmen save local civilian's life, cite training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mike Andriacco
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Occasionally Airman are asked how their training can be used in real-world situations, and now three Andersen Airmen say that it will save a life.

Airman 1st Class Mark Gregg, Airman 1st Class Caleb Rodriguez and Airman 1st Class Kylle Krzywiecki, all from the 36th Munitions Squadron, saved the life of a local resident when he failed to surface while cave-diving, March 27.

By the Airmen's accounts, they were relaxing on the beach after a day of snorkeling and cave swimming, when Mr. Christensen Kimi offered to show them another cave. During one of his dives, Mr. Kimi didn't resurface. Becoming concerned, Airman Krzywiecki swam under and followed the light from his underwater flashlight. He realized that Mr. Kimi was unconscious, grabbed him by the arm, and swam to the surface.

"As soon as I got to the surface, I told Airman Gregg and Airman Rodriguez that I needed help," he said. "The cave was very rocky and I wouldn't have been able to get him up by myself."

After hauling him up to a flat rock, the Airmen's self-aid and buddy care training kicked in. They checked for, and found, a weak pulse but he wasn't breathing. After a few rescue breaths, the Mr. Kimi coughed up fluids."

After the excess fluid was out of his lungs, Airman Gregg ran to find a telephone.

"I sprained my ankle the week prior," Airman Gregg said. "But when you see something like that, everything changes. You don't feel your sprained ankle. Everything is just quick. I ran to the nearest phone at a hotel and have never run faster in my life."

While they waited for Airman Gregg to return with help, Airmen Rodriguez and Krzywiecki continued to monitor Mr. Kimi's condition. After a time, Airman Krzywiecki went to assist Airman Gregg and ensure emergency services were en route. Airman Rodriguez stayed behind to make sure Mr. Kimi stayed warm and to render further first aid if needed.

"I felt his arms and his hands," said Airman Rodriguez. "His extremities began to get colder so I dried him off and pressed his back against my chest and put my forearms on his chest to try to keep his vitals warm. I just kept talking to him and reassuring him I was there."

When emergency services arrived on the scene, the Airmen helped carry Mr. Kimi to the awaiting ambulance. When the Airmen visited him in the hospital later, he was breathing much better and was discharged after a few days of observation with no lasting effects from his ordeal.

All the Airmen credited the training they have received by the Air Force with their ability to act under pressure and accomplish their life-saving actions that night in a cave. As for Mr. Kimi, he doesn't remember the accident until he woke up in the hospital, but he's grateful nonetheless.

"I don't remember much," he said. "But I know if it weren't for these Airmen, I wouldn't be alive today. Thank you."